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Indian Law, Race-Based Classifications, and the Constitution

Matthew L. M. Fletcher writes that, in the context of Indian status, the Constitution does permit classification based on race or ancestry. Fletcher points to the Indian Commerce Clause and the Indians Not Taxed Clause as evidence that “the Constitution is not colorblind” and that Congress has the authority to create legal classifications based on Indian race and ancestry. The author contends that states also have “authority to make legal classifications based on Indian ancestry and tribal membership or citizenship” so long as the classifications rationally fulfill the trust relationship and do not “interfere with tribal government or federal programs.” Read more here.