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Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protection Association

Significance, The Majority Opinion, The Dissent, Impact, Further Readings


Richard E. Lyng, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture


Northwest Indian Cemetery Protection Association, et al.

Petitioner's Claim

Construction of a road and harvesting of timber through areas held sacred by Native American was in violation of their rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and also in violation of various federal statutes.

Chief Defense for Petitioner

Andrew J. Pincus

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Marilyn B. Miles

Justices for the Court

Sandra Day O'Connor (writing for the Court), William H. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, John Paul Stevens, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall (Anthony M. Kennedy did not participate)


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

19 April 1988


Construction of the proposed road does not violate the First Amendment regardless of its effect on the religious practices of respondents because it compels no behavior contrary to their belief.

Related Cases

  • Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963).
  • Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972).
  • Thomas v. Review Board, Indiana Employment Security Div., 450 U.S. 707 (1981).
  • Bowen v. Roy, 476 U.S. 693 (1986).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988