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Felix S. Cohen and His Jurisprudence: Reflections on Federal Indian Law
Buffalo Law Review (1986)
  • Stephen M. Feldman, University of Wyoming
In 1942, Felix S. Cohen published the Handbook of Federal Indian Law, the first synthesis of that field. At that time, Cohen was renowned as a legal philosopher, a member of the American legal realist movement, and a leading advocate for Native Americans. The primary purpose of this Article is to relate Cohen's realist jurisprudence to the development of federal Indian law. The thesis is that Cohen's jurisprudence profoundly affected his writing of the Handbook, which, in turn, profoundly affected the development of contemporary federal Indian law. The United States Supreme Court has effectively adopted Cohen's realist method for resolving certain issues of federal Indian law. The Court has not, however, adopted his ethical values on those issues. Thus, although Cohen was a recognized advocate for Native Americans, the development of the law suggests that his realist methodology, in some respects, undermined tribal sovereignty and Native American rights.
  • Felix S. Cohen,
  • Indian law,
  • jurisprudence
Publication Date
Citation Information
Stephen M. Feldman. "Felix S. Cohen and His Jurisprudence: Reflections on Federal Indian Law" Buffalo Law Review Vol. 35 (1986)
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