The last couple of weeks brought good news and bad news from the Supreme Court. In an example of the old adage that “even a stopped clock is right twice a day,” Justice Neil Gorsuch agreed with the four reasonable justices in McGirt v. Oklahoma and declared that, yes, treaties between Native American nations and the United States government are indeed still in force, therefore, in the eastern half of Oklahoma remains a reservation for the purpose of a federal statute that gives the federal government exclusive jurisdiction to try certain major crimes committed by “any Indian” in “the Indian country.” 

Here’s the critique of the opposition view from the end of the decision: “The federal government promised the Creek a reservation in perpetuity. Over time, Congress has diminished that reservation. It has sometimes restricted and other times expanded the Tribe’s authority. But Congress has never withdrawn the promised reservation. As a result, many of the arguments before us today follow a sadly familiar pattern. Yes, promises were made, but the price of keeping them has become too great, so now we should just cast a blind eye. We reject that thinking. If Congress wishes to withdraw its promises, it must say so. Unlawful acts, performed long enough and with sufficient vigor, are never enough to amend the law. To hold otherwise would be to elevate the most brazen and longstanding injustices over the law, both rewarding wrong and failing those in the right.”

JC Dufresne is a liberal activist and current member of the State Democratic Executive Committee, representing Senate District 25.

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