News

Law & the Courts

Supreme Court Rules Nearly Half of Oklahoma is a Native-American Reservation

The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., May 8, 2020 (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that nearly half the state of Oklahoma remains an Indian reservation as far as the state’s criminal-justice system affects tribe members.

The five to four decision by the justices said that most of the eastern half of Oklahoma, which includes Tulsa, is part of the Muscogee (Creek) Indian Reservation since Congress never voted to end its sovereignty.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion for the majority, joined by the liberal wing of the Court, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. The remaining conservative justices dissented.

“Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of federal criminal law,” Gorsuch wrote. “Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word.”

The ruling overturned 71-year-old tribe member Jimcy McGirt’s conviction in Oklahoma state court for raping a four-year-old Native American girl in 1997 since the crime was committed on reservation land, where he is not subject to state criminal law. McGirt was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years. He argued that only federal authorities could prosecute him for his crimes and may now face a trial in federal court.

The Court considered whether treaties from 1830s between the U.S. government and the Muscogee tribe that promised to “secure a country and permanent home to the whole Creek nation of Indians” were affected when Oklahoma became a state in 1907.

The state of Oklahoma argued that if the Court ruled in favor of McGirt it would “cause the largest judicial abrogation of state sovereignty in American history, cleaving Oklahoma in half.”

Chief Justice John Roberts penned a dissent warning that the ruling could hamper the state in exercising authority on a variety of issues.

“The decision today creates significant uncertainty for the State’s continuing authority over any area that touches Indian affairs, ranging from zoning and taxation to family and environmental law,” Roberts wrote. “None of this is warranted.”

More than 1.8 million people live in the part of the state affected by the ruling.

Send a tip to the news team at NR.

Most Popular

Elections

The Debate Dumpster Fire

On the menu today: You know what we’re talking about today -- that Godforsaken festival of incoherent crosstalk that was allegedly a presidential debate. It Figures That a Dumpster Fire of a Year Like This Would Bring Us a ‘Debate’ Like This Last night, I thought the first presidential debate of the ... Read More
Elections

The Debate Dumpster Fire

On the menu today: You know what we’re talking about today -- that Godforsaken festival of incoherent crosstalk that was allegedly a presidential debate. It Figures That a Dumpster Fire of a Year Like This Would Bring Us a ‘Debate’ Like This Last night, I thought the first presidential debate of the ... Read More
Elections

Trump Did Himself No Favors

The debate was a remarkable example of the fact that Donald Trump, the most self-serving man in America, doesn’t know how to do himself any favors. For the first ten or twelve minutes of the debate, he was walking away with it — Trumpy, sure, but in control and surprisingly reasonable-sounding. If he had ... Read More
Elections

Trump Did Himself No Favors

The debate was a remarkable example of the fact that Donald Trump, the most self-serving man in America, doesn’t know how to do himself any favors. For the first ten or twelve minutes of the debate, he was walking away with it — Trumpy, sure, but in control and surprisingly reasonable-sounding. If he had ... Read More
Elections

On Last Night’s Debate

The fact that I believe the debate was unwatchable last night does not mean I believe President Trump did not have some good moments. And the fact that I imagine it was a net-net win for Joe Biden does not mean he did not have some utterly awful moments. Yet the unwatchability of the debate -- the cringe factor ... Read More
Elections

On Last Night’s Debate

The fact that I believe the debate was unwatchable last night does not mean I believe President Trump did not have some good moments. And the fact that I imagine it was a net-net win for Joe Biden does not mean he did not have some utterly awful moments. Yet the unwatchability of the debate -- the cringe factor ... Read More

Trump vs. Trump

I don’t wish to discuss the debate because I’m not a masochist. It was a crap crêpe. A turd taco. Fecal flan. The American people could be forgiven for rising as one and declaring to Donald Trump and Joe Biden, “Everyone in this country is now dumber for having listened to you. I award you no points, and ... Read More

Trump vs. Trump

I don’t wish to discuss the debate because I’m not a masochist. It was a crap crêpe. A turd taco. Fecal flan. The American people could be forgiven for rising as one and declaring to Donald Trump and Joe Biden, “Everyone in this country is now dumber for having listened to you. I award you no points, and ... Read More

Let Them Fight!

We need to blow up the traditional presidential-debate formats — not because there was too much mayhem in last night’s contest, but because the mayhem wasn’t constructive enough. The Commission on Presidential Debates is now apparently considering allowing moderators to cut candidates’ mics mid-debate. ... Read More

Let Them Fight!

We need to blow up the traditional presidential-debate formats — not because there was too much mayhem in last night’s contest, but because the mayhem wasn’t constructive enough. The Commission on Presidential Debates is now apparently considering allowing moderators to cut candidates’ mics mid-debate. ... Read More
Elections

Who Wins an Unwatchable Debate?

Over coffee this morning I read a fascinating interview with Martin Gurri, the former CIA analyst who first noticed the seismic impact of social media on world politics. The author of The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium, Gurri studies the fracturing of discourse and the ... Read More
Elections

Who Wins an Unwatchable Debate?

Over coffee this morning I read a fascinating interview with Martin Gurri, the former CIA analyst who first noticed the seismic impact of social media on world politics. The author of The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium, Gurri studies the fracturing of discourse and the ... Read More