Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez

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Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued November 29, 1977
Decided May 15, 1978
Full case name Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez
Citations 436 U.S. 49 (more)
98 S. Ct. 1670; 56 L. Ed. 2d 106; 1978 U.S. LEXIS 8
Prior history Decision in favor of respondent, Martinez v. Santa Clara Pueblo, 402 F. Supp. 5 (D.N.Mex., 1975); Reversed and remanded, Martinez v. Santa Clara Pueblo, 540 F.2d 1039 (Tenth cir., 1976); Certiorari granted, 431 U.S. 913 (1977); Reversed, Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez, 436 U. S. 49 (1978)
Holding
Title I of the Indian Civil Rights Act does not expressly or implicitly create a cause of action for declaratory and injunctive relief in the federal courts.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Marshall delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Burger, Brennan, Stewart, Powell, and Stevens joined, and in all but Part III of which Rehnquist joined.
Dissent White

Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez, 436 U.S. 49 (1978),[1] involved a request to stop denying tribal membership to those children born to female (not male) tribal members who married outside of the tribe. The mother who made the case pleaded that the discrimination against her child was solely based on sex, which violated the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968. The courts decided that "...tribal common-law sovereign immunity prevented a suit against the tribe." This decision ultimately strengthened tribal self-determination by further proving that generally, the federal government played no enforcement role over the tribal governments.

Facts[edit]

Petitioner the Santa Clara Pueblo, is an Indian tribe that has been in existence since at least the 15th century. Respondents, Julia Martinez, a full-blooded member of the Santa Clara Pueblo, and her daughter brought suit in federal court against the tribe and its Governor, petitioner Lucario Padilla, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against enforcement of a tribal ordinance denying membership in the tribe to children of female members who marry outside the tribe, while extending membership to children of male members who marry outside the tribe. Respondents claimed that this rule discriminates on the basis of both sex and ancestry in violation of Title I of the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, which provides in relevant part that "[no] Indian tribe in exercising powers of self-government shall . . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of its laws."

Issue[edit]

Whether a federal court may pass on the validity of an Indians tribe's ordinance denying membership to the children of certain female tribal members.

Holding[edit]

Suits against the tribe under the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 are barred by the tribe's sovereign immunity from suit, since nothing on the face of the ICRA purports to subject tribes to the jurisdiction of federal courts in civil actions for declaratory or injunctive relief. Nor does the ICRA impliedly authorize a private cause of action for declaratory and injunctive relief against the Pueblo's Governor. Congress' failure to provide remedies other than habeas corpus for enforcement of the ICRA was deliberate, as is manifest from the structure of the statutory scheme and the legislative history of Title I.

Importance[edit]

Greatly limited the impact of the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 467 U.S. 837 (Text of the opinion from Justia)

External links[edit]

  • Text of Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez, 436 U.S. 49 (1978) is available from:  Findlaw  Justia