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    Worcester v. Georgia Court Case

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    1) explanation of the factual background of the case. ( why was it sent to the supreme court)

    2) The constitutional issue that was associated to the case

    3) How did the court decide its verdict

    4) What reasons did the court use to come up with its decesion

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    Worcester v. Georgia, 31 U.S. (6 Pet.) 515 (1832), was a case in which the United States Supreme Court held that Cherokee Native Americans were entitled to federal protection from the actions of state governments which would infringe on the tribe's sovereignty.


    The Worcester case is highly significant in that it constituted a striking departure from the Supreme Court's earlier treatment of claims involving Native Americans. The majority opinion here lies in stark contrast to the John Marshall opinion in Johnson v. M'Intosh, where the Court held that the United States had the right to the title of the land within its boundaries, and that the Native Americans were but residents; it also differs significantly from the Marshall opinion in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, where the Court willingly ceded its jurisdiction over matters involving native tribes. However, the outcome that was apparently favorable to the claims of the Cherokee was precluded by a hostile Congress and the equally hostile President Andrew Jackson.

    The Case

    Georgia law required all whites living in Cherokee Indian Territory to obtain a state license. Seven missionaries refused to obey the state law, were arrested, convicted, and sentenced to four years of hard labor for violating the state licensing law. They appealed their case to the Supreme Court of the United States, arguing that the laws they had been convicted under were unconstitutional because states have no power or authority to pass laws concerning sovereign Indian Nations.

    The missionaries, Samuel Austin Worcester and Elizur Butler, were targeted by Georgia because of their influence with and support of Cherokee resistance against removal. It was understood that, had they applied for state licenses to reside among the Cherokees, the licenses would have been denied. The Georgia state courts had previously been deferential to Worcester because of his federal appointment as postmaster to New Echota, the Cherokee capital. George Rockingham Gilmer, the governor of Georgia, personally persuaded the federal government to withdraw Worcester's appointment as postmaster and make him subject to arrest.

    Worcester' considered one of the most influential decisions in the area of law applicable to American Indians. The Marshall court had previously ruled in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia that Indian tribes in the United States did not have the status of foreign nations (famously describing them as "domestic dependent nations"); here the court ruled that the Cherokee nation was a "distinct community" with self-government "in which the laws of Georgia can have no force". This ruling established the doctrine that the national government of the United States?and not individual states?had authority in Indian affairs.

    Response to the Decision

    In reaction to this decision, President Andrew Jackson has often been quoted as defying the Supreme Court with the words: "John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!" Arguably because of a legal loophole, he had no grounds for becoming involved unless the Georgia courts formally defied the Supreme Court. That did not happen since Georgia simply ...

    Solution Summary

    Detailed description of the court case, Worcester v. Georgia