Inyo County v. Paiute-Shoshone Indians of Bishop Community of Bishop Colony, 538 U.S. 701, 12 (2003)

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Opinion of the Court

property." (emphasis added)). Section 1983 was designed to secure private rights against government encroachment, see Will, 491 U. S., at 66, not to advance a sovereign's prerogative to withhold evidence relevant to a criminal investigation. For example, as the County acknowledges, a tribal member complaining of a Fourth Amendment violation would be a "person" qualified to sue under 1983. See Brief for Petitioners 20, n. 7. But, like other private persons, that member would have no right to immunity from an appropriately executed search warrant based on probable cause. Accordingly, we hold that the Tribe may not sue under 1983 to vindicate the sovereign right it here claims.6


In addition to 1983, the Tribe asserted as law under which its claims arise the "federal common law of Indian affairs." Supra, at 706 (quoting App. 97, ¶ 1). But the Tribe has not explained, and neither the District Court nor the Court of Appeals appears to have carefully considered, what prescription of federal common law enables a tribe to maintain an action for declaratory and injunctive relief establishing its sovereign right to be free from state criminal processes. In short, absent 1983 as a foundation for the Tribe's action, it is unclear what federal law, if any, the Tribe's case "aris[es] under." 28 U. S. C. 1331. We therefore remand for focused consideration and resolution of that jurisdictional question.

* * *

The judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

It is so ordered.

6 It hardly "demean[s] . . . Native American tribes," see post, at 713 (Stevens, J., concurring in judgment), in our view, to bracket them with States of the Union in this regard.

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