Second McGirt hearing to consider

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The United States Supreme Court is meeting on Friday for a conference on the cases it will address this session. Last fall, the state asked the court to take up a case that would open the door to a reconsideration of McGirt v. Oklahoma. (Photo by Ian Hutchinson via Unsplash)

January 7 is the day Oklahoma officials expect – the day the United States Supreme Court meets for a conference on the cases it will address in that session. Last fall, the state asked the court to take up a case that would open the door to a reconsideration of McGirt v. Oklahoma.

The court may refuse or set a hearing date for Oklahoma v. Victor Manuel Castro-Huerta, another case involving a felony committed against a tribal citizen who was removed from state courts due to lack of jurisdiction.

the McGirt decision, released in July 2020, found that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation had never been properly dissolved, and therefore the state does not have the power to adjudicate cases involving tribal members that occur in an area previously unrecognized as indigenous lands.

Get another crack at McGirt Would seem like a long shot for state officials, but new Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor is willing to give it a try. In its submissions to the court, the State argues that the McGirt decision caused a “significant disruption” in the state that can only be remedied by reversing the court’s previous decision.

The disruption is not a legal argument, argued the Chickasaw Nation and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma in their brief to the court.

“The challenge of the State of McGirt is political, not legal, ”the tribal memoir reads. “Following the departure of the elected attorney general, the current state governor calculated that the recent change in the composition of this court could give the state another chance to McGirt, and he appointed a new attorney general to advance this strategy. “

O’Connor was appointed by Governor Kevin Stitt in May 2021, following the resignation of former Attorney General Mike Hunter.

A legislative solution in the form of congressional action, as the former attorney general advocated, is unlikely to help, the state argued in its petition. A measure introduced by US Representative Tom Cole in May appears to have stalled.

But the remedy proscribed in Cole’s legislation is for the state and the tribes to work together on a pact – a process that in recent years has proven elusive as the relationship between Stitt and the tribal chiefs has grown increasingly. tense.

The tribes argue that the state should not be able to take the pending case to the Supreme Court because the state had not shown interest in the case until last fall and therefore waived to any right to contest.

The state argued that there would have been no point in challenging a case in a state court, when the lower court’s decision was based on that of the Supreme Court.


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