TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Today, the Cherokee Nation 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 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.
“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.”
The Cherokee Nation’s brief also looks at the error-ridden amici filed in support of the state, which rely on incorrect information and unsupported anecdotes. These errors include criminal cases cited as supposed shortcomings in tribal justice systems following McGirt, but which upon closer inspection do not back these claims. The brief also addresses the issues in a study used by the state’s amici to demonstrate a failure to prosecute cases post-McGirt. In reality, the study exclusively looks at cases filed before state courts even applied McGirt to the Cherokee reservation, making its conclusions incorrect and its submission to the Supreme Court misleading.
“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.”
To help meet its responsibilities, the Cherokee Nation has enhanced its justice system with new hires, courthouses and funding to ensure it can prosecute cases and provide support to victims. Since McGirt was applied to the Cherokee reservation, the tribe has already filed over 2,300 cases in tribal court and continues to work with federal officials as they do the same.