Jessica McBride/Managing Editor
Case to define Indian Country
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court announced May 21 that they will hear the Royal v. Murphy 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 to 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.
The Supreme Court order list for May 21 states Justice Neil Gorsuch did not participate in the consideration or decision of the petition.
Gorsuch was a justice at the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals from 2006-2017.
The landmark case will decide what court has the authority to try Patrick Murphy for committing murder within the Muscogee (Creek) Nation 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 Tenth Circuit Court 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.
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 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.
Mvskoke Media will continue to follow the case as it develops.4 comments