Court Battles

Supreme Court to revisit part of Native American land decision in Oklahoma

The Supreme Court said on Friday that it would revisit part of a decision it made in 2020 on a case, which focused on Oklahoma’s ability to prosecute on Native American land.

The original decision, McGirt v. Oklahoma, sided with tribal leaders finding that a large part of land in the eastern part of the state qualified as Indian reservation, according to The Washington Post.

In the 5-4 decision, Justice Neil Gorsuch sided with the more liberal justices for the majority. 

The justices will revisit a more narrow part of their decision, about whether non-Native Americans who commit crimes against the native community in areas of Oklahoma that are considered Native American land can be prosecuted by the state, The Associated Press reported.

The AP noted that since Native American-recognized land was expanded during that 2020 case to include most of Tulsa, it meant that criminal prosecution against Native Americans in those areas also could not be conducted by the state.

The state had urged the Supreme Court to have the 2020 McGirt v. Oklahoma decision overturned, but that request was denied by the justices, The Post noted.

Instead, part of that decision, issued one year ago, will be revisited by the high court in April.

Oklahoma officials, including Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) applauded the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday.

“The fallout of the McGirt decision has been destructive. Criminals have used this decision to commit crimes without punishment. Victims of crime, especially Native victims, have suffered by being forced to relive their worst nightmare in a second trial or having justice elude them completely,” Stitt said in a statement.

The Republican governor said the 2020 decision “has hamstrung law enforcement in half of the state.”

“Now that Governor Stitt’s fight against tribal sovereignty has once again come up short, we hope he will consider joining tribes, rather than undermining our efforts, so we can focus on what is best for our tribal nations and all Oklahomans,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said, according to The Post. 

Tags Native American Neil Gorsuch Oklahoma Supreme Court

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