On May 11, attorneys for Mr. Jimcy McGirt and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the Oklahoma Solicitor General argued their respective sides of a case before the US Supreme Court about whether the Creek Reservation (a large section of eastern Oklahoma) was “disestablished” as a reservation by Congress more than 100 years ago. Attorneys for Mr. McGirt, a Tribal member, argued that Oklahoma lacked jurisdiction to try him in Oklahoma state court because they argued his crime of rape was committed on Muscogee (Creek) reservation land.
The Major Crimes Act, which covers crimes like rape and murder, gives only the federal government the ability to try these crimes if committed on a reservation and involving a Tribal member. If the Muscogee (Creek) Reservation was never disestablished, as the defendant argued, the state would have never had jurisdiction to try Mr. McGirt because the federal court should have been the appropriate trial venue.
On July 9, in a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Gorsuch, the Court held in McGirt that the Creek Reservation was never disestablished by Congress. So Mr. McGirt must be retried in federal court.
CLICK HERE to read Senator Lankford’s statement.
The Court’s decision has caused numerous rumors to spread regarding Tribal and non-Tribal land ownership and jurisdiction in the reservation land. Senator Lankford and staff have been engaged along with the entire Oklahoma congressional delegation, the Tribes, the state, and all stakeholders to track areas that Congress will need to work on regarding any required follow-up federal legislation to provide predictability and certainty for all Oklahomans. The more questions we answer now, the fewer guesses or assumptions people will have to make in the future. If you have questions, concerns, or ideas about Oklahoma’s future, please send Senator Lankford an email with your thoughts. As Congress writes legislation to bring predictability, they want to be sure they cover as many relevant issues as possible for future generations.
CLICK HERE to read the Oklahoma delegation’s commitment to resolving this with all stakeholders through legislation.