Supreme Court rules that federal relationships with tribes are political, not racial, in nature

In Morton v. Mancari, the Supreme Court held that the federal government's special treatment of Indians is political and non-racial when it "can be tied rationally to the fulfillment of Congress' unique obligation toward the Indians." Subsequent decisions have both reaffirmed the holding and made clear that it applies to the federal government's dealings with Indians generally. For example, in United States v. Antelope, the Supreme Court held in 1977 that "[f]ederal regulation of Indian tribes, therefore, is governance of once-sovereign political communities; it is not to be viewed as legislation of a 'racial' group consisting of 'Indians.'"
Updated May 14, 2015