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United States v. Antelope

United States Supreme Court
430 U.S. 641, 97 S.Ct. 1395, 51 L.Ed.2d 701 (1977)


Facts

Gabriel Francis Antelope and others (Antelope) (defendants), enrolled Coeur d’Alene Indians, robbed and killed Emma Johnson, a non-Indian, on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation in the state of Idaho. The United States (plaintiff) tried and convicted Antelope of felony murder in federal court under the Major Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1153. A non-Indian charged with the murder of a non-Indian on an Indian reservation would have been tried in Idaho state court under Idaho law, not federal law. Unlike federal law, Idaho did not have a felony-murder statute. Conviction of first-degree murder in state court would have required proof of premeditation and deliberation. Antelope argued that his conviction violated the equal-protection provisions implicit in the Fifth Amendment because the government could convict him of first-degree murder without proving elements that would have been necessary to convict a non-Indian of the same offense under state law. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Burger, C.J.)

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