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Andrew Jackson and the state of Georgia obeyed the Supreme Court ruling in Cherokee v. Georgia?
Andrew Jackson and the state of Georgia obeyed the Supreme Court ruling in Cherokee v. Georgia.
- Charles KLv 71 decade agoFavorite Answer
-- False --------- Response to the Decision
In reaction to this decision, President Andrew Jackson has often been quoted as defying the Supreme Court with the words: "John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!" However, Jackson never made any such statement. (What Jackson actually said was that "the decision of the supreme court has fell still born, and they find that they cannot coerce Georgia to yield to its mandate.") Arguably because of a legal loophole, he had no grounds for becoming involved unless the Georgia courts formally defied the Supreme Court. That did not happen since Georgia simply abided by the only substantive holding of the decision, and pardoned and freed the plaintiff (albeit after several months of shirking the federal judiciary). In doing so, Georgia underscored the reality of Worcester's true import: despite having no Indian litigants, and thus being incapable of bearing out a holding that could work in their favor in practice, when the decision was cited as precedent in later Indian decisions, like Johnson and Cherokee Nation that preceded it, the case would display inimitable destructive capacity. Marshall used the decision, at least in part, to vindicate the wrongs he perpetrated with "Johnson v. M'Intosh"; Justice Story considered it similarly, writing, in a letter to his wife dated 4 March 1832, "Thanks be to God, the Court can wash their hands clean of the iniquity of oppressing the Indians and disregarding their rights."
Marshall succeeded in Worcester, at least rhetorically, in repudiating some of the "discovery doctrine" put forth in the Johnson decision, but it was largely too late: though Marshall still presided, Jackson had filled the Court with his own appointees, and the damage was done. The removal policy overseen by the second Jackson administration ensured that history would remember Marshall's "Indian Trilogy" no more kindly than it did just the founding Johnson decision. Jackson's opponents criticized him for failing to act against Georgia, but even if he had wanted to intervene—and much evidence suggests that he did not, though the President's position is no longer considered in the strictly polar light that it has been in years past—it is questionable whether he had any legal authority to do so. And in any case, any power disparity between Jackson's Executive and Marshall's Judiciary was irrelevant: Georgia abided by the only immediate holding of the case, seeing clearly that, on releasing the plaintiff, she could continue on the course of her Indian policy with little further judicial ado.
Perhaps fearing the possibility of a showdown between the Supreme Court and the Executive, and realizing the real likelihood of Jackson refusing to adhere to the Court’s pro-Cherokee decision, the Justices did not follow the standard procedure of requiring federal marshals to carry out the decision, despite Georgia's laxity in pardoning and releasing Worcester. In doing so, the Supreme Court implicitly permitted Andrew Jackson not to carry out the decision, thus avoiding the possibility of a political conflict between two branches, while also retaining the pro-Cherokee decision of Worcester as good precedent for subsequent cases and presidents.
There can be no question that Jackson, in both his politics and his policy was supportive of Georgia in its efforts to relocate the Cherokees. Despite winning their case in the Supreme Court, Worcester and Butler remained imprisoned until 1833, when a new governor, Wilson Lumpkin, persuaded them to accept pardons on condition that they would have nothing further to do with the Cherokees. Worcester and Butler were reluctant to accept pardons under such a condition but were eventually pressured to do so by the combined efforts of their lawyers, their missionary organization, and Governor Lumpkin.
According to Chused, Worcester and Butler did return to the Cherokees. Further, they never accepted a formal pardon and they were not given one. Rather, they were released on a general proclamation issued in January 14, 1833.
In 1835, a dissident faction of Cherokees signed a removal treaty, the Treaty of New Echota. Jackson actively lobbied the U.S. Senate to ratify the treaty in 1836, where it passed by a majority of one vote. In 1838, under President Martin Van Buren, this led to the forcible relocation by the U.S. Army of the Cherokees to Indian Territory (part of present-day Oklahoma) in what would become known as the Trail of Tears.