Play video

Sovereign Immunity

Learn about tribal sovereign immunity, including its extent, waiver of immunity, and criticism of tribal immunity.


I. Sovereign Immunity

Sovereign immunity originated from the English law principle rex non potest peccare, a Latin maxim that means the king can do no wrong. This principle was based on the idea that the king couldn’t be bound by the courts he created. Sovereign immunity evolved in the United States, and the principle now holds that a sovereign, or government, can’t be sued without its consent. Indian tribes’ sovereign immunity was first mentioned by the United States Supreme Court...