The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that about half of the land in Oklahoma is within an Indian reservation, a decision that will have major consequences for both past and future criminal and civil cases.
The court’s decision hinged on the question of whether the Creek reservation continued to exist after Oklahoma became a state.
“Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of federal criminal law. Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion.
The decision was 5-4, with Justices Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer in the majority, while Justices John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented…
In a dissenting opinion, Roberts, the chief justice, wrote that the decision “will undermine numerous convictions obtained by the State, as well as the State’s ability to prosecute serious crimes committed in the future,” and “may destabilize the governance of vast swathes of Oklahoma.”
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