Update: McGirt V. Oklahoma “This case will be argued via telephone conference, with live audio available to the public on Monday, May 11, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. CDT.”
WASHINGTON–The Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s jurisdictional boundaries question raised in the United States Supreme Court (USSC) in the McGirt vs. Oklahoma case will have oral arguments in May according to a press release issued April 13.
The high court originally set the hearing for Apr. 21. However, alternative processes became necessary the United States dealt with the COVID-19 public health crisis.
‘In keeping with public health guidance in response to COVID-19, the Justices and counsel will all participate remotely,’ the release said. ‘The Court anticipates providing a live audio feed of these arguments to news media.’
‘Details will be shared as they become available.’
McGirt along with nine other cases will be set for oral arguments on May 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, and 13. It is not yet clear which of the calendar dates will be set aside for which cases.
The MCN was not the only Oklahoma tribe to submit a brief in the case. The MCN, Cherokee Nation, Choctaw Nation and Chickasaw Nation were among several entities submitting briefs to the United States Supreme Court on Feb. 11. The briefs were all provided as impartial advisors on the McGirt appeal case.
The McGirt case is an appeal to the supreme court by Jimcy McGirt, who is currently serving two 500-year sentences and a life without parole sentence for first-degree rape by instrumentation, lewd molestation and forcible sodomy after former convictions of a felony.
According to MCN’s brief, ‘The Muscogee (Creek) Nation (“Nation” or “Creek Nation”) had no role in the genesis of this litigation, but now finds its Reservation under direct attack.’
‘Oklahoma has claimed that the Nation never enjoyed an Indian Territory Reservation and that, if it did, the allotment of lands to Nation citizens and the coming of statehood abolished it – despite clear treaty and statutory text to the contrary,’ MCN brief said. ‘The Nation files this brief to vindicate its core sovereign interests in its treaty-guaranteed Reservation.’
This is the second round of legal documents submitted by the tribe and supporters in cases centered on the tribe’s reservation status. In 2018, the tribe awaited the opinion in the Murphy case, a similar land reservation question.
The high court did not render an opinion. Instead, on Dec. 4, 2018, the court directed the parties, Solicitor General and Muscogee (Creek) Nation to submit supplemental briefs addressing two more questions for the court.
McGirt’s case presents the opportunity for all nine justices to hear and give an opinion on the matter. In the last session, Justice Neil Gorsuch did not participate in the Murphy case opinion leaving eight justices to hear the case.
McGirt’s appeal argues that the state did not have the authority to convict him, that federal courts should have handled the jurisdiction due to the fact the crime took place within tribal jurisdiction boundaries.
The question posed in the Murphy case asks the court, ‘Whether the 1866 territorial boundaries of the Creek Nation within the former Indian Territory of eastern Oklahoma constitute an ‘Indian reservation’ today under 18 USC. § 1151(a).’
Mvskoke Media will continue to follow this case and provide updates they become available.