Quimbee logo
DMCA.com Protection Status
From our private database of 19,800+ case briefs...

Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez

United States Supreme Court
436 U.S. 49, 98 S.Ct. 1670, 56 L.Ed.2d 106 (1978)


Santa Clara Pueblo Indian law required that the children of a female member of the tribe be full-blooded Santa Clara Pueblo Indian to become a member of the Santa Clara Pueblo Indian Tribe (Tribe) (defendant). The offspring of male members of the Tribe were not similarly restricted from joining the Tribe. Martinez (plaintiff), a female member of the Santa Clara Pueblo Indian Nation, had two children who were half Navajo. Martinez’s children were denied Santa Clara Pueblo membership, including the right to vote and to hold leadership positions. Martinez sued the Tribe in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico. Martinez argued that the membership rule discriminated on the basis of sex and ancestry and violated the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 (ICRA), 25 U.S.C. §§ 1301–03. The district court upheld the membership rule as central to the Tribe’s culture and economy and as valid under the ICRA. This holding implied that Martinez had a right to bring an ICRA claim in federal, rather than in tribal court. Martinez appealed, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit reversed. The tenth circuit also recognized a federal cause of action under the ICRA, but held that the Tribe had not shown a compelling interest to justify a membership rule that discriminated on the basis of sex. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether Martinez was permitted to bring a civil lawsuit in federal court under the ICRA

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Marshall, J.)

Concurrence (Rehnquist, J.)

Dissent (White, J.)

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 506,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 506,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 19,800 briefs, keyed to 985 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.

Questions & Answers

Have a question about this case?

Sign up for a free 7-day trial and ask it

Sign up for a FREE 7-day trial