Case Summary Citation

Lewis v. Clarke, 137 S. Ct. 1285 (2017).


One manner in which Indian tribes exercise their inherent sovereignty is by asserting sovereign immunity. In Lewis v. Clarke, the Court decided that the sovereign immunity extended to instrumentalities of tribes did not further extend to tribal employees acting within the scope of their employment. The Court acknowledged the concerns of the lower court, namely, the possibility of setting a precedent allowing future plaintiffs to sidestep a tribe’s sovereign immunity by suing a tribal employee in his individual capacity. However, the Supreme Court ultimately felt that the immunity of tribal employees should not exceed the immunity extended to state and federal employees sued in their individual capacity.



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