United States v. Antelope

PETITIONER:United States
RESPONDENT:Gabriel Francis Antelope, et al.
LOCATION:Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation

DOCKET NO.: 75-661
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 430 US 641 (1977)
ARGUED: Jan 18, 1977
DECIDED: Apr 19, 1977
GRANTED: Feb 23, 1976

Allen V. Bowles – for respondent Gabriel Antelope
Mr. Andrew L. Frey – for petitioner
John W. Walker – for respondents Leonard and William Davison

Facts of the case

On February 18, 1974, three enrolled Couer d’Alene Indians—William Davison, Gabriel Francis Antelope, and Leonard Davison—broke into the home of 81-year-old Emma Johnson, robbed her, and killed her. Because the crimes were committed on an Indian reservation, the three were subject to federal prosecution under the Major Crimes Act. They were indicted by a grand jury and tried for burglary, robbery, and murder. Leonard Davison and Antelope were found guilty on all three charges, and William Davison was found guilty of second-degree murder.

The defendants appealed and argued that their convictions under federal law were the result of unlawful racial discrimination. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the convictions and held that the defendants were placed at a “racially based disadvantage.”


Do federal criminal statutes that subject individuals to federal prosecution based on their status as American Indians violate the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment?

Media for United States v. Antelope

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – January 18, 1977 in United States v. Antelope

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – April 19, 1977 in United States v. Antelope

Warren E. Burger:

I have the judgment and opinion of the Court to announce in 75-661, United States against Antelope and for reason stated and an opinion filed with the clerk in this morning, the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent of this opinion.