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U.S. Supreme Court hands down ruling with serious effects for Oklahoma

The supreme court handed down a ruling limiting the sweep of the 2020 McGrit V. Oklahoma ruling which that Native Americans who commit crimes on the reservations, which include much of the city of Tulsa, cannot be prosecuted by state or local law enforcement and must instead face justice in tribal or federal courts.

The supreme court handed down a ruling today that changes the scope of that and reestablishes state and local control of the prosecution of non natives who committed crime on native land. Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor issued a statement on the ruling saying,

“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court stood up for the safety of Oklahomans of native American heritage in eastern Oklahoma. The Supreme Court recognized Oklahoma’s sovereignty and jurisdiction to prosecute non-Indians who commit crimes against Indians in eastern Oklahoma.

“Federal prosecutors are only prosecuting one in four felony referrals from law enforcement officers in eastern Oklahoma. Now the State prosecutors can take up the slack and get back to what we have been doing for 113 years. The Biden DOJ predicted a “surge” in crime in eastern Oklahoma in 2023. With this decision, hopefully that surge can be avoided.

“This decision significantly limits the impact of McGirt. It vindicates my office’s years-long effort to protect all Oklahomans—Indians and non-Indians alike—from the lawlessness produced by the McGirt decision. While we still have a long road ahead of us to fix all of the harms our State has experienced as a consequence of McGirt, this is an important first step in restoring law and order in our great State.

“As we move forward, Oklahoma welcomes the opportunity to continue to work with our tribal and federal partners from both the eastern and western sides of the state.  As those that brought our Great State together knew, Labor Omnia Vincit – labor conquers all things. It will take hard work and an unwavering willingness to do the right thing for the right reasons to ensure every Oklahoman, regardless of ancestry, receives equal justice under the law.”


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