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Cherokee Nation files brief with U.S. Supreme Court as Oklahoma continues to fight McGirt ruling

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September 24, 2021 Protection for all
Cherokee Nation: A valuable partner before statehood, a valuable partner today

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (KFOR) — The Cherokee Nation has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on the state of Oklahoma’s efforts to reverse last year’s McGirt v. Oklahoma decision.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on July 9, 2020, that Oklahoma prosecutors lack authority to pursue criminal cases against American Indian defendants in parts of Eastern Oklahoma that include most of Tulsa, the state’s second-largest city.

The high court decided that the Muscogee (Creek) reservation was never disestablished.

Tribal nations have worked to take over hundreds of cases impacted by the decision since that ruling.

Attorney General John O’Connor filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court on Aug. 6, 2021, asking the court to overturn the 2020 McGirt ruling, and narrow any application of the decision.

Now, the Cherokee Nation says it will defend the McGirt ruling from the state.

“Governor Stitt could have spent the months since the McGirt decision working with tribes and local partners to keep Oklahomans safe. Instead, he has not only refused to accept the Supreme Court’s ruling but has prioritized overturning the decision over solutions that would actually protect public safety,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. “Our brief today demonstrates that the governor’s attacks on tribal sovereignty are inconsistent with the law and factually baseless. We hope the court will see through this blatantly political effort, reject the state’s petition, and put an end to the dangerous uncertainty and instability created by the state’s refusal to work with tribes.”

Cherokee Nation says the brief outlines why the court should deny Oklahoma’s petition, as well as ‘the flawed arguments and outright inaccuracies in the state and its amici’s filings.’

“The state’s refusal to accept McGirt is not a valid reason why the court should revisit the case, and its legal arguments go against settled law and precedent,” said Cherokee Nation Attorney General Sara Hill. “It is telling that the amici briefs filed in support of Governor Stitt rely on easily disproven claims and contradict the facts on the ground. While the governor continues to mislead Oklahomans, the Cherokee Nation continues to work with our partners to meet our responsibilities and expand our justice system.”

KFOR has reached out to both Gov. Kevin Stitt and AG John O’Conner for a comment. O’Connor declined to comment. KFOR is still awaiting Stitt’s response.

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