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Oklahoma state, city, tribal leaders respond to Supreme Court ruling

Posted at 10:34 AM, Jul 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-09 19:21:44-04

The Supreme Court ruled Oklahoma did not have jurisdiction in prosecuting crime involving a Native American within historical boundaries of the Creek Indian Reservation.

Tribal, state and local leaders respond to the Supreme Court's ruling on McGirt vs Oklahoma.

The United States Attorneys for the northern, eastern and western districts issued this statement:

As Oklahoma’s United States Attorneys, we are confident tribal, state, local, and federal law enforcement will work together to continue providing exceptional public safety under this new ruling by the United States Supreme Court.

The Muscogee (Creek), Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole Nations released the following statement in reference to the ruling:

The State, the Muscogee (Creek), Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole Nations have made substantial progress toward an agreement to present to Congress and the U.S. Department of Justice addressing and resolving any significant jurisdictional issues raised by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma.

The Nations and the State are committed to ensuring that Jimcy McGirt, Patrick Murphy, and all other offenders face justice for the crimes for which they are accused. We have a shared commitment to maintaining public safety and long-term economic prosperity for the Nations and Oklahoma.

The Nations and the State are committed to implementing a framework of shared jurisdiction that will preserve sovereign interests and rights to self-government while affirming jurisdictional understandings, procedures, laws, and regulations that support public safety, our economy, and private property rights. We will continue our work, confident that we can accomplish more together than any of us could alone.

Tulsa County District Attorney Stephen Kunzweiler issued this statement on the ruling:

Certainly, the United States Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma demonstrates that this was and will continue to be a hotly contested issue. My office has prepared for this possibility and we are in direct communications with the United States Attorney’s Office and the Muskogee (Creek) Nation Attorney General’s Office on insuring that eligible offenders are appropriately transferred to those jurisdictions for prosecution. I am confident that the strong relationships we have with our federal, tribal and local law enforcement partners will manage this change in the law in a professional manner. My greatest concern is on behalf of victims. They are the most impacted people by this decision. All they know is they were needlessly victimized. All they desire is justice. This will be a significant disruption for them. The Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office has established relationships through our prosecutors and victim-witness advocates with countless victims who have relied upon our experience and counseling. I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to be shuttled around like this. They did not ask to be victims, nor to be victimized again.

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) issued the following statement:

Today’s ruling on McGirt v. Oklahoma sheds light on an issue debated for some time now. As we move forward, I have no doubt we can work together with state officials, tribal organizations and the delegation to find a workable solution for everyone that ensures criminals are prosecuted and brought to justice in the most appropriate manner. We have a duty to all American citizens to uphold the Constitution and stand up for victim’s rights. Our number one priority will always be the safety of each and every Oklahoman.

Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) said:

Today’s Supreme Court ruling determines that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s reservation was not dis-established when Oklahoma became a state. The work will continue in the days ahead to clarify a framework for criminal and civil regulatory jurisdiction that provides consistency and predictability for all people living and doing business within the state. However, I am grateful for the commitment from the state and the 5 Tribes to work with the delegation to craft legislation that ensures that the ruling has a minimal impact on individuals and businesses throughout Oklahoma. Our greatest priority should be to provide for the safety of communities by ensuring those serving time for crimes continue to do so, and individuals that commit crimes are prosecuted to the fullest extent under the law. I look forward to working with the tribes, the state, and other members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation to finding a solution acceptable to all parties.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt issued the following statement:

I am aware the ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma was handed down this morning by the U.S. Supreme Court. My legal team has been following the case closely and is reviewing the decision carefully. They will advise our team on the case’s impact and what action, if any, is needed from our office.

Oklahoma's congressional delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives issued the following statement:

Today, the Supreme Court provided a long-awaited ruling on McGirt v. Oklahoma on an issue concerning the Five Tribes of Oklahoma and all Oklahomans. We are reviewing the decision carefully and stand ready to work with both tribal and state officials to ensure stability and consistency in applying law that brings all criminals to justice. Indeed, no criminal is ever exempt or immune from facing justice, and we remain committed to working together to both affirm tribal sovereignty and ensure safety and justice for all Oklahomans.

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