United States v. Mazurie

PETITIONER:United States
LOCATION:Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina

DOCKET NO.: 73-1018
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

CITATION: 419 US 544 (1975)
ARGUED: Nov 12, 1974
DECIDED: Jan 21, 1975

Charles E. Hamilton – for respondents
Harry R. Sachse – for petitioner
Jerome F. Statkus – for the State of Wyoming, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Mazurie

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – November 12, 1974 in United States v. Mazurie

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – January 21, 1975 in United States v. Mazurie

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion in 73-1018, in Mazurie — United States against Mazurie will be announced by Mr. Justice Rehnquist.

William H. Rehnquist:

In this case the respondents are non-Indians who are prosecuted for operating a bar on private land within an Indian reservation without having obtained a tribal permit which is required by federal law.

The Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit reversed their convictions on the grounds that the statute defining the offense was so vague that its enforcement would violate due process.

And on the additional grounds that even if Congress had the authority to regulate the sale of alcoholic beverages on privately owned land within the boundaries of an Indian reservation, it could not delegate this authority to an Indian tribe.

We granted certiorari and now reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

We conclude that the statute is sufficiently clear and definite so that under the facts of this case the respondents were fairly warned that their conduct was proscribed.

As for the question of federal power to regulate the conduct of non-Indians on non-Indian land that is within a reservation’s boundaries, our cases have long established that Congress’ plenary power to regulate commerce with Indian tribes is adequate to control all traffic and alcoholic beverages with tribal Indians.

We also conclude that Congress’ delegation of a portion of this power was valid.

The Court of Appeals we believe incorrectly characterized the tribes to which this authority was delegated as being mere private voluntary organizations.

Rather, our cases have said that they are unique entities which possess attributes of sovereignty and are historically empowered to exercise authority over matters relating to their internal order and relations.

Under these cases, these facts are sufficient to protect Congress’ decision that they should be empowered to control the sale of alcoholic beverages on their reservation.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit is therefore reversed.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Rehnquist.