Inyo County v. Paiute-Shoshone Indians of Bishop Community of Bishop Colony, 538 U.S. 701, 11 (2003)

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Cite as: 538 U. S. 701 (2003)

Opinion of the Court

Court should read 1983 to encompass suits brought by Indian tribes.

As we have recognized in other contexts, qualification of a sovereign as a "person" who may maintain a particular claim for relief depends not "upon a bare analysis of the word 'person,' " Pfizer Inc. v. Government of India, 434 U. S. 308, 317 (1978), but on the "legislative environment" in which the word appears, Georgia v. Evans, 316 U. S. 159, 161 (1942). Thus, in Georgia, the Court held that a State, as purchaser of asphalt shipped in interstate commerce, qualified as a "person" entitled to seek redress under the Sherman Act for restraint of trade. Id., at 160-163. Similarly, in Pfizer, the Court held that a foreign nation, as purchaser of antibiotics, ranked as a "person" qualified to sue pharmaceuticals manufacturers under our antitrust laws. 434 U. S., at 309-320; cf. Stevens, 529 U. S., at 787, and n. 18 (deciding States are not "person[s]" subject to qui tam liability under the False Claims Act, but leaving open the question whether they "can be 'persons' for purposes of commencing an FCA qui tam action" (emphasis deleted)); United States v. Cleveland Indians Baseball Co., 532 U. S. 200, 213 (2001) ("Although we generally presume that identical words used in different parts of the same act are intended to have the same meaning, the presumption is not rigid, and the meaning of the same words well may vary to meet the purposes of the law." (internal quotation marks, brackets, and citations omitted)).

There is in this case no allegation that the County lacked probable cause or that the warrant was otherwise defective. It is only by virtue of the Tribe's asserted "sovereign" status that it claims immunity from the County's processes. See App. 97-105, ¶¶ 1-25, 108-110, ¶¶ 33-39; 291 F. 3d, at 554 (Court of Appeals "find[s] that the County and its agents violated the Tribe's sovereign immunity when they obtained and executed a search warrant against the Tribe and tribal


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