What is Worcester V. Georgia?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Worcester v. Georgia was a Supreme Court case that was decided in 1832.  In this case, the Court decided that the state of Georgia had no jurisdiction over the lands belonging to the Cherokee nation.  This decision implied that the Cherokee had to be treated as if they were a separate nation within the United States.

This case is famous for two reasons.  First of all, Andrew Jackson supposedly said of this that "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it."  He didn't really say this, but he did go on to ignore the implications of the decision.  Instead of treating the Cherokee as a sovereign nation, he allowed them to be evicted from their lands in the Indian Removal of the 1830s.  Second, the case set something of a precedent for the way that Native Americans are now treated by law.  It set the stage for them to be treated as semi-sovereign nations.