What would you like to do?

How was President Jackson able to overrule the Supreme Court and force the Cherokee to move?

already exists.

Would you like to merge this question into it?

already exists as an alternate of this question.

Would you like to make it the primary and merge this question into it?

exists and is an alternate of .

He didn't. Chief Justice John Marshall's written opinion(s) in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, (1831) and Worcester v. Georgia, (1832), the two Supreme Court decisions people mistakenly believe President Jackson overruled, applied only to the State of Georgia. Chief Justice John Marshall expressed his personal opinion about the United States' legal and ethical duty to the Native Americans within the body of the legal opinion, but his comments (called obiter dictum or dicta) weren't part of the Court's official decisions and weren't legally binding on the United States.


In both Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, (1831) and Worcester v. Georgia, (1832), the Court declared the United States relationship to the Cherokee was that of two separate nations, with the Cherokee's status a "denominated domestic dependent nation," giving the federal government the sole right of negotiation with them and creating a duty to protect the Cherokee from Georgia's hostile actions. The decision in Worcester barred Georgia from annexing the land, and ruled the state did not have the right of possession, nor dominion over Cherokee laws or territory, short of military conquest or legal purchase. The Supreme Court's opinion applied specifically to Georgia, not to the federal government.

Jackson ignored Marshall's assertion that the federal government was obligated to protect the Native Americans; but there way no legal requirement for the federal government to follow Marshall's instructions because 1) the statement wasn't part of the official ruling (Worcester v. Georgia, (1832)); 2) the removal issue wasn't a question before the Court; 3) the United States wasn't party to the case; and 4) the Court has no power to enforce its rulings, anyway. The Constitution assigns authority over law enforcement to the Executive branch of government, over which the President presided. Because Jackson, then Van Buren, and Congress were in agreement about (mis)appropriating Cherokee land and moving them to less hospitable territory west of the Mississippi River, the Supreme Court had no way of preventing their action.

Jackson pressured the Governor of Georgia to pardon and release from jail the missionaries who had lived on Native American land without buying a required state license. Georgia continued to enforce its unconstitutional laws, but did not claim the disputed territory.

Jackson's presidential successor, Martin Van Buren, and Congress circumvented the Supreme Court by ratifying the Treaty of New Echota in 1836, an instrument signed by the Ridge Party, an unauthorized faction within the Cherokee Nation. The Treaty offered the Nation five million dollars and land in Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma) in exchange for the more desirable Southern ancestral land. Although John Ross, elected leader of the Cherokee Nation, protested to Congress, his pleas were ignored.

The Supreme Court never had an opportunity to rule on the validity of the Treaty because no case was presented for consideration.

For more information about Worcester v. Georgia, see Related Questions, below.
2 people found this useful
Thanks for the feedback!

Why is it important for the US Supreme Court to be careful in overruling its previous decisions?

The US Supreme Court realizes that precedent needs to be respected and considered very carefully in new decisions in order to prevent social and institutional chaos. Supreme C

Which President packed the US Supreme Court to have a decision overruled?

The question is a little misleading. No President successfully packed the US Supreme Court. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a bill in 1937 that would have added one j

If supreme court overrules roe vs wade must the decision be ratified by the states?

The Supreme Court (or any other court) is very unlikely to reverse  prior case law decisions.   However to directly answer your question, decisions by court of any  kind

Has the US Supreme Court ever overruled a former US Supreme Court decision?

Yes, quite a few times. One famous instance in which the Supreme Court overruled its prior precedent was Brown v. Board of Education, the case which held that segregated schoo

Can supreme court overrule a military tribunal?

The Supreme Court historically separates itself from military matters, allowing the military court system to handle military matters as members of the armed forces are not ent

Can the US Supreme Court review and overrule a state supreme court decision?

Yes, when there is a preserved federal question involved in the state supreme court's decision. Federal questions like the constitutionality of a state law are allowed to be r

Can the Supreme Court overrule Amendments to the Constitution?

No. The Supreme Court is bound by the law of the Constitution. No one has authority to override amendments. The Constitution can only be changed by a two-thirds majority of bo

Can a State Supreme Court overrule their own prior decision?

  Yes, they can. However, if the decision involves a question of federal or constitutional law and the case is petitioned to the US Supreme Court for a writ of certiorar

Which US President defied the US Supreme Court and removed the Cherokee from their land?

Technically, none, although the test answer is Andrew Jackson, who pushed Congress to pass the Indian Removal Act of 1830. President Jackson is frequently accused of defying