Supreme Court limits 2020 McGirt ruling

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 6:23 PM CDT
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Okla. (KXII) - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday the state of Oklahoma can prosecute non-Native American defendants regardless of whether the victim is a tribal member or not.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4.

“Prior to the two years after McGirt that was called into question so the United States Supreme Court they interpret the law they upheld the law which is that the state can prosecute non-natives when there is a Native American victim, so it’s a big win for public safety it’s a big win for crime victims in particular Native American victims of crime,” Special Council for the Governor of McGirt matters Ryan Leonard said.

Wednesday’s ruling affirms the state of Oklahoma has concurrent jurisdiction with the federal government to prosecute non-Indians where there is an Indian victim.

“This ruling also affirmed that we are one state,” Leonard said. “It affirms that Indian country lies within the state, it affirms that the state retains its full jurisdiction unless that jurisdiction is specifically preempted by federal law.”

Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton disagrees, he released the following statement to News 12:

“We are extremely disappointed in this ruling, in part because it appears to rely on faulty information provided by the opposition. Of course we respect the authority of the Supreme Court, and we will integrate this into our continue efforts to provide effective criminal justice in our reservation as we work with law enforcement agencies at the federal, state, local, and tribal level.

“To be clear, this ruling does not affect the main holding of the McGirt decision, which affirmed tribal sovereignty and requires the United States to uphold its treaty obligations.”

“Our focus remains on protecting our members, as well as all 4 million Oklahoma residents.”

Leonard said about 25 percent of all McGirt impacted crime involves non-Indian on Indian crime.

The remaining 75 percent involve Native American defendants.

“People are safer because of the United States Supreme Court decision today,” Leonard said.

This case does not resolve all of McGirt.

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