September 19, 2021

OK Attorney General petitions SCOTUS to overturn tribal sovereignty ruling

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor requested that the Supreme Court of the United States overturn last year’s ruling about tribal sovereignty. 

The Washington Examiner reported that O’Connor, a newly appointed state attorney general, made his petition on Friday, citing what he believed was evidence that last year’s decision was made incorrectly.

O’Connor, a Republican, petitioned the court concerning McGirt v. Oklahoma of last year, which was a case that determined the state could not legally try a Creek citizen for criminal conduct.

According to O’Connor that decision “now drives thousands of crime victims to seek justice from federal and tribal prosecutors whose offices are not equipped to handle those demands.”

“Numerous crimes are going uninvestigated and unprosecuted, endangering public safety,” added O’Connor. The attorney general has made this one of his first cases, having just been appointed to the position last month after the resignation of Michael Hunter.

In addition, the state AG’s petition asks the court to allow the state to prosecute non-Native Americans who commit crimes against tribal citizens on reservation land.

The court decided last July that the Indian Major Crimes Act dictates lands reserved for the Creek Nation in eastern Oklahoma constituted Indian Country, which allowed them extensive latitude in legal matters.

O’Connor’s request didn’t sit well with some of the tribal leadership, however. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. spoke out against O’Connor and Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, saying they were attempting to enact an “anti-Indian political agenda,” according to a statement posted on Facebook.

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