Martinez v. Santa Clara Pueblo

540 F.2d 1039 (1976)

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Martinez v. Santa Clara Pueblo

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
540 F.2d 1039 (1976)

Facts

In 1939 a membership ordinance was enacted by the Santa Clara Pueblo (the pueblo), which granted membership in the pueblo to all children born of marriages between male members of the pueblo and nonmembers. The ordinance precluded membership for children born of marriages between female members and nonmembers. The preclusion of these children meant the children faced the loss of inheritance rights, residency and voting rights, and the ability to pass membership to their offspring. In the past, offspring of mixed marriages had diminished individual shares of property. Julia Martinez, a member of the pueblo, married Myles Martinez, a nonmember, and their children spoke the language of the pueblo, practiced the pueblo’s customs, and were accepted into the pueblo’s religion. However, due to the ordinance, the Martinez children were denied membership in the pueblo. Julia Martinez and female members of the pueblo who were married to nonmembers, together with their children (collectively, the class) (plaintiffs), filed a class-action suit against the pueblo and Lucario Padilla, governor of the pueblo (collectively, the tribe) (defendants), alleging that the ordinance violated the equal-protection and due-process provisions of the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 (ICRA). The federal district court held that the ordinance did not violate the ICRA and found that the classification being attacked was based on criteria traditionally used by the tribe in considering membership, so the classification did not deny the class of equal protection within the meaning of the ICRA. The class appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Doyle, J.)

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