Habeas in Indian Country Syllabus
9 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2020 Last revised: 6 Feb 2021
Date Written: June 29, 2020
Habeas corpus is revered for its function as a guarantor of individual liberty against an overreaching sovereign. The Great Writ has served this function in Indian Country, but it is most often invoked in debates over the extent of tribal sovereignty and how much control the U.S. federal government has over tribes. To what sovereign a habeas petition should be submitted is a critical question, especially when two possible answers exist.
This class investigates questions that revolve around this central theme of how habeas has functioned as a tool of expanding and curtailing tribal sovereignty: how have tribal members used habeas corpus throughout history? How did changing views of Indian jurisdiction over criminal matters affect the use of habeas? Is it right to place so much emphasis on habeas corpus as the only available remedy under one of the most significant pieces of federal Indian legislation, the Indian Civil Rights Act? How are tribes currently using habeas to shape debates on pressing issues such as tribal banishment, child welfare and custody, and domestic violence? How do restrictions on non-tribal habeas affect Indians in the that justice system? How do tribal courts facilitate habeas corpus petitions within the tribal justice system?
This course is structured as a weekly seminar for a 13-week semester, with one class reserved for guest speakers and one reserved either for student presentations or a review session, depending on the assessment method chosen.
Keywords: Habeas Corpus, Federal Indian Law, American Indian Law
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