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Cherokee Nation v. Georgia

March 18, 1831

In 1828, the Cherokee Nation sought an injunction from the Supreme Court to prevent the state of Georgia from enforcing a series of laws stripping the Cherokee people of their rights and displacing them from their land, asserting that the laws violated treaties the Cherokees had negotiated with the United States. In the case of Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, the Court ruled that the Cherokees did not constitute a foreign nation within the meaning of Article III of the Constitution – which extended the judicial power of the United States to cases between a state and a foreign nation – and that it therefore lacked jurisdiction to hear the claims of an Indian nation against the state in which it resided. Accordingly, the Court dismissed the case. In contrast, the Court ruled four years later in Worcester v. Georgia that the Cherokee Nation was a separate political entity that could not be regulated by the state, and that only the federal government had authority to regulate the use of Indian land.