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Bissonette v. Haig

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
776 F.2d 1384 (8th Cir. 1985), 800 F.2d 812 (8th Cir. 1986) (en banc), 485 U.S. 264 (1988)


In February 1973, a group of armed Indians (plaintiffs) began the occupation of Pine Ridge Reservation in Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Various United States government agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), set up road blocks of all key entry and exit points of the reservation. After about 10 weeks, the Indians surrendered. The Indians subsequently brought suit, seeking damages against the government officials (defendants), claiming that the Indians were unreasonably seized, confined, and searched by ground and aerial surveillance by the United States Army and Air Force in violation of both the Fourth Amendment and the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 (Act), 18 U.S.C. § 1385, which prohibits a sheriff from calling in the Army or Air Force to assist in preserving the peace or enforcing the law (also known as posse comitatus) in the absence of express permission to do so from either the Constitution or Congress. The defendants moved for dismissal for a failure to state a claim. The district court granted the motion, and the Indians then appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Arnold, J.)

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