WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the eastern half of Oklahoma can be considered Native American territory, a decision the state warned could create “civil, criminal and regulatory turmoil.”
The 5-4 decision was written by Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch and joined by the court’s four liberal justices. The justices considered the issue for the second time after failing to decide a different case last year, when Gorsuch was recused and the court likely deadlocked.
The case concerned an appeal from Jimcy McGirt, a Native American, who claimed his state rape conviction from 1997 should be overturned because Oklahoma lacked jurisdiction. Congress, his lawyer Ian Gershengorn said, never properly terminated the reservation.