Like a Loaded Weapon: The Rehnquist Court, Indian Rights, and the Legal History of Racism in America

Overview


Robert A. Williams Jr. boldly exposes the ongoing legal force of the racist language directed at Indians in American society. Fueled by well-known negative racial stereotypes of Indian savagery and cultural inferiority, this language, Williams contends, has functioned “like a loaded weapon” in the Supreme Court’s Indian law decisions. 

Beginning with Chief Justice John Marshall’s foundational opinions in the early nineteenth century and continuing today in the judgments of...

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Like a Loaded Weapon: The Rehnquist Court, Indian Rights, and the Legal History of Racism in America

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Overview


Robert A. Williams Jr. boldly exposes the ongoing legal force of the racist language directed at Indians in American society. Fueled by well-known negative racial stereotypes of Indian savagery and cultural inferiority, this language, Williams contends, has functioned “like a loaded weapon” in the Supreme Court’s Indian law decisions. 

Beginning with Chief Justice John Marshall’s foundational opinions in the early nineteenth century and continuing today in the judgments of the Rehnquist Court, Williams shows how undeniably racist language and precedent are still used in Indian law to justify the denial of important rights of property, self-government, and cultural survival to Indians. Building on the insights of Malcolm X, Thurgood Marshall, and Frantz Fanon, Williams argues that racist language has been employed by the courts to legalize a uniquely American form of racial dictatorship over Indian tribes by the U.S. government. 

Williams concludes with a revolutionary proposal for reimagining the rights of American Indians in international law, as well as strategies for compelling the current Supreme Court to confront the racist origins of Indian law and for challenging bigoted ways of talking, thinking, and writing about American Indians. 

Robert A. Williams Jr. is professor of law and American Indian studies at the James E. Rogers College of Law, University of Arizona. A member of the Lumbee Indian Tribe, he is author of The American Indian in Western Legal Thought: The Discourses of Conquest and coauthor of Federal Indian Law.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816647101
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
  • Publication date: 11/10/2005
  • Series: Indigenous Americas Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 822,514
  • Product dimensions: 5.88 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Part I: Discovering a Language of Racism in America

1. “Look Mom, a Baby Maid!”: The Languages of Racism

2. The Supreme Court and the Legal History of Racism in America

Part II: “Signs Taken for Wonders”: The Nineteenth Century Supreme Court and Indian Rights

3. “The Savage as the Wolf”: The Founders’ Language of Indian Savagery

4. Indian Rights and the Marshall Court

5. The Rise of the Plenary Power Doctrine

Part III: The Twentieth Century Post-Brown Supreme Court and Indian Rights

6. What “Every American Schoolboy Knows”: The Language of Indian Savagery in Tee-Hit-Ton v. United States

7. Rehnquist’s Language of Racism in Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe

8. The Most Indianophobic Supreme Court Justice Ever in the Legal History of Racism in America

9. The Dangers of the Twentieth Century Supreme Court’s Indian Rights Decisions

Part IV: The Rehnquist Court’s Perpetuation of Racism Against Indians

10. Expanding Oliphant’s Principle of Racial Discrimination: Nevada v. Hicks

11. The Court’s Schizophrenic Approach to Indian Rights: United States v. Lara

Conclusion: The Fifth Element

Notes

Index

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