Arguing Oklahoma’s rights to due process were “severely taken” by the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt’s ruling in 2020, Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor is asking the justices to overturn that ruling.
O’Connor cited the McClain County death penalty case of convicted killer Shaun Bosse, a non-Native American, who brutally murdered a Chickasaw mother and her two young children.
In May, the Supreme Court agreed to keep Bosse on Oklahoma’s death row while they considered reviewing questions about Oklahoma’s criminal jurisdiction.
Included in the petition is evidence of the decision’s drastic consequences in Oklahoma.
“Oklahomans were not notified or afforded due process before their rights were so severely taken,” O’Connor said, adding the Biden administration was quick to cite McGirt and assert control over Oklahoma surface mining.
He subsequently sued the administration to undo that incursion into Oklahoma’s sovereignty over land within its borders.
“McGirt was wrongly decided, and its disruptive effects in Oklahoma are unprecedented,” the petition reads. “While the Court believed that compromise or congressional action could limit the disruption from its decision, it is now clear that neither is forthcoming.”
Indeed, the tribes do not agree among themselves, much less with the state, on the proper path forward.
“Only the Court can remedy the problems it has created, and this case provides it with an opportunity to do so before the damage becomes irreversible,” the petition states.
By narrowing any application of the McGirt decision, the state could continue to imprison felons convicted before the McGirt ruling. Also, the petition asks the court to affirm the state’s authority to prosecute non-Native Americans who commit crimes against Native Americans in the former Muscogee (Creek) reservation revived by the Court in McGirt.
As it stands, Oklahomans have no law enforcement respond to their calls for help.
“Victims of atrocious crimes are being re-victimized by going through the legal process a second time, and, in some instances, seeing their loved one’s killer set free because federal prosecutors cannot file the claims against the released convicts,” O’Connor said.
“Some theories sound good in concept but don’t work in the real world. The U.S. Supreme Court got this decision wrong and we are respectfully asking the Court to overturn its decision or to limit it to certain federal crimes. The most effective way to right this terrible wrong is for the court to overturn the McGirt decision. Without action, the negative consequences will damage Oklahomans for years to come.”