Is Lara the Answer to Implicit Divestiture?: A Critical Analysis of the Congressional Delegation Exception


This work concerns the Supreme Court’s 2004 Indian law decision United States v. Lara, in which the Court held that Congress could enlarge tribal sovereign authority through federal legislation. Proponents of tribal sovereignty generally consider the decision a victory; however, Lara also contains a large amount of dicta in which the Court hints that external limits may circumscribe Congress’ ability to restore tribal sovereignty. The author attempts to explain this discontinuity, and warns that Lara may not represent an unqualified victory for Indian Country. Specifically, the author argues that Lara’s comments could indicate the Court considers tribes divested of the authority to act in certain sovereign capacities by virtue of their “discovery” by European colonialists.


Indian and Aboriginal Law

Date of this Version

September 2006