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Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida

United States Supreme Court
517 U.S. 44 (1996)



In 1988, Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), providing that Native American tribes could only conduct certain gaming activities pursuant to a valid compact between the tribe and the state in which the gaming activities were located. The IGRA imposes on states a duty to negotiate with tribes in good faith for the purpose of forming a compact and authorizes tribes to bring suit in federal court against states to compel performance of that duty. In 1991, the Seminole Tribe of Florida (plaintiff) brought suit against the State of Florida and its Governor (defendants) in district court alleging that Florida refused to enter into any negotiations with the tribe for the establishment of gaming activities and therefore violated the IGRA. Florida moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the IGRA violated Florida’s sovereign immunity. The district court denied Florida’s motion to dismiss, but the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed. The Seminole Tribe of Florida appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, C.J.)

Dissent (Souter, J.)

Dissent (Stevens, J.)

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