Quimbee logo
DMCA.com Protection Status
From our private database of 16,500+ case briefs...

Williams v. Lee

United States Supreme Court
358 U.S. 217 (1959)


Lee (defendant) operated a general store under a federal license on a Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona, where Williams (plaintiff) and his wife purchased goods on credit. While Lee was not Native American, Williams and his wife were Navajo Indians living on the reservation. The Navajo Indian Reservation was set apart by treaty in 1868 as reserved for use solely by the Navajo people. Lee brought suit against Williams for nonpayment in state court, and Williams filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that proper jurisdiction existed in the tribal court. At the time of the dispute, the reservation had in place a sophisticated legal system and tribal court. The state court denied the motion and entered judgment in favor of Lee. The Supreme Court of Arizona affirmed, finding that state courts may have jurisdiction over civil suits between Native American and non-Native Americans, even if the suit was based on an act committed on a reservation. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Black, 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 97,000 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 408,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 16,500 briefs, keyed to 223 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