Today, I will reluctantly present the final round of the Turtle Talk Greatest Cases Tournament. I am reluctant because it mostly was fun to do this, and I don’t really want it to end. So I’ll keep doing them. They’re fun, and most everyone likes them.
Final Round Match-up
(1) Worcester v. Georgia versus (7) Williams v. Lee
I’ve been characterizing these two cases lately as old-timey sovereignty versus somewhat younger old-timey sovereignty. Here’s part of what I wrote about Worcester when I wrote about what I do when I teach the case:
[I]n the 1832 Term, the Marshall Court voted 5-1 to declare unconstitutional the laws of Georgia purporting to invalidate the entire Cherokee Nation in Worcester v. Georgia. Though Chief Justice Marshall’s wife Polly had passed during the previous recess and his health wavered, he delivered an opinion one commentator declared as “one of the most powerful he ever delivered.” Justice Story wrote to his wife, “Thanks be to God, . . . the Court can wash their hands clean of the iniquity of oppressing the Indians and disregarding their rights.”
Here’s what I wrote about Williams recently in an unpublished paper:
In 1959, however, the Supreme Court decided Williams v. Lee, a fairly dramatic decision roundly affirming inherent, and exclusive, tribal authority to adjudicate civil disputes arising in Indian country involving reservation Indians (as defendants). Williams recognized that Congress intended the IRA to be a vehicle for the development of tribal justice systems. The Court also noted that the tribal justice system at issue, the Navajo judiciary, was exemplary: “The Tribe itself has in recent years greatly improved its legal system through increased expenditures and better-trained personnel. Today the Navajo Courts of Indian Offenses exercise broad criminal and civil jurisdiction which covers suits by outsiders against Indian defendants.”
Enough about me. Here’s the poll. We’ll go two days instead of one.