American Indian Legal Scholarship and the Courts
Matthew L. M. Fletcher
Michigan State University College of Law
October 1, 2012
MSU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-25
Is legal scholarship influential on the courts? More particularly, is American Indian legal scholarship influential on the courts? In the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, tribal interests enjoyed historic success in the courts. While they didn’t win every case, tribal interests prevailed far more than they ever had prior to these few decades. Since the advent of the Rehnquist and Roberts Courts, however, those successes have once again become few and far between.
American Indian legal scholarship, which rose from virtual nonexistence in the 1950s to significance in the late 1960s and 1970s, appears to have been very influential on the courts during the period of success. Every decade since the 1960s has seen a dramatic increase in the number of law review articles on the subject of American Indian law. Courts cited to an incredible percentage of the Indian law articles published in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s, but that citation pattern has leveled off since the 1980s. The lower courts continue to cite American Indian legal scholarship, but in a more limited manner. In the Supreme Court, Indian law scholarship has all but disappeared.
This short paper, prepared for the Henderson Center’s Fall 2012 Symposium, “Heeding Frickey’s Call: Doing Justice in Indian Country,” presents the data on the citation patterns of American Indian legal scholarship and reviews Professor Frickey’s call as a means of introducing the conference.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 39
Keywords: Supreme Court, American Indian legal scholarship, law reviews, legal scholarship, law journals, federal judiciary, state courts, tribal courts, citation patterns
Date posted: October 2, 2012