Inyo County v. Paiute-Shoshone Indians of Bishop Community of Bishop Colony, 538 U.S. 701, 8 (2003)

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Opinion of the Court

fraud," but thought it incumbent upon the State to further that interest "through far less intrusive means." Ibid.

The Court of Appeals also ruled that the District Attorney and the Sheriff were not shielded by qualified immunity. "[A] reasonable county officer," it held, "would have known . . . that seizing tribal property held on tribal land violated the Fourth Amendment because the property and land were outside the officer's jurisdiction." Id., at 568. The appeals court acknowledged prior Ninth Circuit precedent holding that the right to tribal self-government is not protected by 1983. Id., at 568, n. 7 (citing Hoopa Valley Tribe v. Nevins, 881 F. 2d 657 (1989)); see Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 29, n. 15. But in this case, the Court of Appeals concluded, a 1983 claim could be maintained because the Tribe sought "protection from an unlawful search and seizure," a right secured by the Fourth Amendment and therefore within 1983's compass. 291 F. 3d, at 568, and n. 7. On December 2, 2002, we granted certiorari. 537 U. S. 1043.


Central to our review is the question whether the Tribe's complaint is actionable under 1983. That provision permits "citizen[s]" and "other person[s] within the jurisdiction" of the United States to seek legal and equitable relief from "person[s]" who, under color of state law, deprive them of federally protected rights.4 In Will v. Michigan Dept. of State Police, 491 U. S. 58 (1989), this Court held that a State is not a "person" amenable to suit under 1983. "[I]n enact-4 The relevant portion of 42 U. S. C. 1983 reads: "Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress."

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