Jessica McBride/Managing Editor
Case scheduled for Supreme Court conference May 10
WASHINGTON — In U.S. Supreme Court documents filed April 23 in the Royal v. Murphy case, attorneys for the State of Oklahoma argue that allowing the appellate court’s decision to stand will rip the state apart.
‘Oklahoma stands on the brink of the most radical jurisdictional shift since statehood,’ the brief states.
The attorneys suggest the state would no longer be able to prosecute crimes involving Native Americans in the eastern half of Oklahoma.
‘Today, Oklahoma exists as Congress envisioned: a unified community of Oklahomans. Unless this Court intervenes, the decision below threatens to resurrect Oklahoma’s pre-statehood status as two Territories rather than one State, undoing Congress’s promise to the people of Oklahoma over a century ago,’ the brief states.
The Supreme Court website states the case will be distributed for conference May 10.
According to www.politics.oxfordre.com, during this conference, justices will discuss cases on their list and formally vote whether or not to take the case.
According to www.uscourts.gov, the Supreme Court does not automatically grant the request to hear the case, but will if the case ‘has national significance, might harmonize conflicting decisions in the federal Circuit courts, and/or could have precedential value.’
The site states four of the justices have the vote to accept the case, and five of the justices have to vote to grant a stay. There are nine justices on the Supreme Court.
Oklahoma’s brief is in response to documents filed by Muscogee (Creek) citizen Patrick Murphy’s attorneys claiming the State of Oklahoma has improperly asserted authority over the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation for over a century.
‘And while Oklahoma after statehood indeed asserted absolute criminal and civil jurisdiction, it did so in defiance of Congress’s statutes, in furtherance of one of this country’s most shameful episodes of plunder and exploitation,’ Murphy’s attorneys state.
The landmark case will decide what court has the authority to try Murphy for committing murder within the MCN jurisdiction, but not on MCN-owned or trust land.
Previously, MCN had jurisdiction over land in trust or restricted status (original allotments), and other parcels within the tribal boundaries were under the jurisdiction of the State of Oklahoma.
In the latter half of 2017, the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Congress had not disestablished the MCN reservation created by an 1866 treaty, and therefore the State of Oklahoma lacked the jurisdiction to try and sentence Murphy for murder because he is a Muscogee (Creek) citizen and the crime occurred in Indian Country.
The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a brief with the Supreme Court, agreeing with the State of Oklahoma.
‘Contrary to the court’s view, Congress disestablished the Creek Nation’s historic territory when, in preparation for and granting Oklahoma statehood, it broke up and allotted Creek Nation’s lands, displaced tribal jurisdiction, and provided for application of state law and state jurisdiction,’ the DOJ brief states.
Murphy’s attorneys state the Dawes Commission never obtained an agreement to cede land from MCN.
‘But the Creek negotiated to avoid cession, ensuring the entire body of Creek lands would remain intact and (with limited exceptions) be allotted to Creek citizens, and that the 1901 agreement would include no language characteristic of disestablishment, such as “[e]xplicit reference to cession” to the United States, a commitment “to compensate the tribe for its land with a fixed sum,” or language restoring lands to “the public domain,” ’ their brief states.
A stay has been issued in the case, pending Oklahoma’s appeal to the Supreme Court, which means Native American offenders with similar cases are waiting for the potential to have their cases retried in tribal or federal court.
According to a Supreme Court media guide, the court receives approximately 7,000-8,000 petitions each term to hear cases. Around 80 of them are granted.
The guide states the court usually responds to petitions within six weeks.
Mvskoke Media will continue to follow the case as it develops.3 comments