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Cities of Tulsa, Owasso file brief supporting state's push for SCOTUS to overturn its McGirt ruling

Gov. Kevin Stitt's office on Friday thanked the City of Tulsa and the City of Owasso for filing a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the state’s request for the justices to overturn their ruling in McGirt v Oklahoma

The July 2020 ruling found the Muscogee Nation was never disestablished, meaning the state had been illegally prosecuting crimes involving Native Americans for more than 100 years.

Tulsa and Owasso's brief claims police are struggling to investigate cases because it’s difficult to determine tribal membership, and federal and tribal prosecutors are not able to prosecute all the crimes involving Indians that they should, ranging from burglaries to domestic violence.

"Tulsa’s and Owasso’s law enforcement continue to do all they can to protect Indian and non-Indian citizens from crime, but the barriers imposed by McGirt are overwhelming. And tribal authorities simply do not have the capacity to carry the load. The result is hundreds, or even thousands, of criminals walking free," the brief reads.

The cities’ brief says if the court won’t overturn McGirt, it should return prosecution authority to the state.

Mayor G.T. Bynum’s office said he has no further comment as the brief "speaks for itself." The Muscogee Nation did not return a request for comment on Friday.

The two cities' amicus briefs were among four filed in support of Oklahoma's petition to have the McGirt ruling overturned. Other briefs were filed by the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association, the Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association, the Association of Oklahoma Narcotic Enforcers, and 27 district attorneys; by Environmental Federation of Oklahoma, Inc., Oklahoma Farm Bureau Legal Foundation, the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, the Oklahoma Aggregates Association, and the Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma; and by the states of Texas, Kansas, Louisiana and Nebraska.

Tribal leaders have panned Stitt for working to have SCOTUS overturn its own ruling rather than trying to reach a solution with them.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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