Oklahoma cities, others join in effort to overturn McGirt

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – The cities of Tulsa and Owasso, state law enforcement and business groups and the states of Texas, Kansas, Louisiana and Nebraska have filed briefs supporting Oklahoma’s request that the U.S. Supreme Court overturn its ruling that some tribal reservations were never disestablished.

The briefs filed Oct. 21 allege crimes such as domestic violence have not been prosecuted because of what is known as the McGirt decision.

Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson in Tulsa and Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. dispute the claims. 

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma has reviewed almost 3,000 cases since the McGirt ... decision,” Johnson said in a statement to the Tulsa World. “My office has opened over 900 of those cases – 450 of which have been indicted thus far.”

Hoskin said the tribes have expanded and coordinated with law enforcement.

“The arguments to overturn McGirt simply don’t hold water,” he said. “Since the Supreme Court’s decision, the Cherokee Nation and other tribes have worked hard to expand our justice systems and to closely coordinate with all partners to ensure we are supporting victims and prosecuting crimes. Oklahomans aren’t buying Governor Stitt’s claims of chaos or his attacks on public safety and tribal sovereignty. There is an effective way to continue to improve federal and tribal responses, if that is the goal: it involves more resources, strong relationships with local law enforcement, improving communication, and – if possible – federal legislation that permits tribal-state compacting on criminal jurisdiction. That would be far more productive than hoping the Supreme Court will overturn its decision. Instead, the cities seem invested in creating more barriers for tribal law enforcement to overcome and this further holds up collaboration.”

Stitt has called the McGirt decision the biggest issue facing the state and praised the filings.

“Each of these briefs factually demonstrates the chaos created by McGirt as well as the dire consequences for all Oklahomans if the ruling is not overturned,” Stitt said.

The McGirt decision found that Oklahoma has no jurisdiction over crimes committed by or against Native Americans on tribal reservations.