Boots & Sabers

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1421, 06 Aug 23

Separate but Equal?

This is a mess.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Friday left in place a lower court ruling that invalidated a speeding ticket against a Native American man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, because the city is located within the boundaries of an Indian reservation.


The justices rejected an emergency appeal by Tulsa to block the ruling while the legal case continues. The order is the latest consequence of the high court’s landmark 2020 decision that found that much of eastern Oklahoma, including Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation.


Justin Hooper, a citizen of the Choctaw Nation, was cited for speeding in 2018 by Tulsa police in a part of the city within the historic boundaries of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. He paid a $150 fine for the ticket, but filed a lawsuit after the Supreme Court’s ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma. He argued that the city did not have jurisdiction because his offense was committed by a Native American in Indian Country. A municipal court and a federal district court judge both sided with the city, but a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision.


There were no noted dissents among the justices Friday, but Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a short separate opinion, joined by Justice Samuel Alito, in which he said that Tulsa’s appeal raised an important question about whether the city can enforce municipal laws against Native Americans.

I’ve been in Tulsa a couple of times this year for various reasons. It’s a mess. In speaking with friends who live there, the Native Americans are flaunting laws and the police are powerless to prevent it. What is most noticeable are the vehicles that should not be on the road but have Reservation plates. But behind the scenes, it is impacting the dual healthcare systems, neighborhoods, property values, crime, and so much more.


1421, 06 August 2023


  1. Merlin

    Oklahoma has always been a jurisdictional mess. Always. If you like puzzles try digesting the history of the lands that eventually became Oklahoma. It’s quite ugly.

    Congress created the Indian Territories in 1834 and by treaties with several tribes guaranteed their sovereignty as independent states in perpetuity. They’ve been modifying those treaties by federal statute ever since, but they’ve never completely unwound it all. It sure looks as though generations of congress critters have incorrectly assumed that eventual assimilation would dissolve the jurisdictional issues. They just keep kicking the can down the road.

    The Supreme Court has not erred by pointing out that further solutions lie with Congress. An activist court might have found otherwise and decided to fix what was not theirs to fix.

  2. dad29

    generations of congress critters have incorrectly assumed that eventual assimilation would dissolve the jurisdictional issues

    Same assumption with unlimited invasion.

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