MARSHALL, C.J., Opinion of the Court
1. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
30 U.S. 1
Cherokee Nation v. Georgia
Argued: --- Decided:
Mr Chief Justice MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.
This bill is brought by the Cherokee Nation, praying an injunction to restrain the State of Georgia
from the execution of certain laws of that State which, as is alleged, go directly to annihilate the
Cherokees as a political society and to seize, for the use of Georgia, the lands of the Nation
which have been assured to them by the United States in solemn treaties repeatedly made and
still in force.
If Courts were permitted to indulge their sympathies, a case better calculated to excite them can
scarcely be imagined. A people once numerous, powerful, and truly independent, found by our
ancestors in the quiet and uncontrolled possession of an ample domain, gradually sinking beneath
our superior policy, our arts and our arms, have yielded their lands by successive treaties, each of
which contains a solemn guarantee of the residue, until they retain no more of their formerly
extensive territory than is deemed necessary to their comfortable subsistence. To preserve this
remnant, the present application is made.
Before we can look into the merits of the case, a preliminary inquiry presents itself. Has this
Court jurisdiction of the cause?
The third article of the Constitution describes the extent of the judicial power. The second
section closes an enumeration of the cases to which it is extended, with "controversies" "between
a State or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens, or subjects." A subsequent clause of
the same section gives the supreme Court original jurisdiction in all cases in which a State shall
be a party. The party defendant may then unquestionably be sued in this Court. May the plaintiff
sue in it? Is the Cherokee Nation a foreign state in the sense in which that term is used in the
The counsel for the plaintiffs have maintained the affirmative of this proposition with great