McGirt v. Oklahoma Background Materials

Merits Briefs:

Petitioner’s Brief

Respondent’s Brief

2020 03 20 McGirt Joint Motion for Divided Argument and Enlargement of Time

Amicus Briefs in Support of Petitioner:

2020 02 11 Amicus Brief Brad Henry et al

2020 02 11 Amicus Brief Historians Legal Scholars Cherokee Nation

2020 02 11 Amicus Brief National Ass’n Criminal Defense Lawyers

2020 02 11 Amicus Brief National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center et al

2020 02 11 Amicus Brief NCAI

2020 02 11 Amicus Brief of Muscogee Creek Nation

18-9526tsacFormerUnitedStatesAttorneys

Amicus Briefs in Support of Respondent:

2020 03 20 Amicus Brief of United States

2020 03 20 Environmenal Fderation of Oklahoma, et al, Amicus Brief

2020 03 20 Int’l Municipal Lawers and Nat’l Sheriffs’ Assn Amicus Br

2020 03 20 States’ Amicus Br

2020 03 20 Tulsa Merits Amicus Brief

Oklahoma District Attorneys Amicus Brief

Cert Stage Materials:

mcgirt-cert-petition.pdf

appendix.pdf

oklahoma-brief-in-opposition.pdf

New Fletcher Paper, “Textualism’s Gaze”

Available on SSRN, here.

Here is the abstract:

In recent years, perhaps because of the influence of Justice Scalia, the Supreme Court appears to place greater emphasis on texts than ever before. “We’re all textualists now,” Justice Kagan declared in 2015. But it is one thing to say a court will prioritize the text. It is another thing to choose which text is to be prioritized.

Follow the textualism of constitutional interpretation and one sees judges prioritize the public understanding of the privileged white men in power at the time of the framing of the constitutional text. Follow the textualism of federal statutory interpretation and one sees judges prioritize the text exclusively, and if the judges engage with the legislative history of the statute they will engage with the public understanding of the legislators who enacted the law, again, largely privileged white men. The victory of textualism is not necessarily in the outcomes, but in significantly narrowing the scope of evidence available to interpret the text, in some cases to almost nothing but the bare words of the statute. Women, persons of color, and other marginalized persons and entities are almost never relevant to the textualist’s gaze.

The narrow focus of the textualist’s gaze also warps how Indian law matters are decided. The judiciary rarely considers how the governments and people most affected by the text — Indian tribes and individual Indians — understand the meaning of the text. The judiciary, whether it intends to or not, considers Indians and tribes as extraneous to the interpretive process.

U. Chi. Law Review Podcast on the Murphy/McGirt Cases

Here is “Briefly 3.10 – Is Half of Oklahoma Tribal Land?”

From the site:

This is Briefly, a production of the University of Chicago Law Review. Today we are discussing two cases pending before the Supreme Court, which will determine whether roughly half of the land in Oklahoma is actually an Indian Reservation . We’re joined by Elizabeth Reese, a Bigelow Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School, and Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Professor of Law and Director of the Indigenous Law & Policy Center at Michigan State University College of Law. Music from bensound.com.

Top 10 American Indian Law Cases of 2019

It was a busy 2018 Term at the Supreme Court. Here are the top cases (although the top case is not a Supreme Court case):

1. Brackeen v. Bernhardt — This has to be the top case, even beating out three Supreme Court cases. Foundational doctrines of Indian law are at stake, state governments are facing off against the United States, and virtually every Indian tribe has affirmed support for the Indian Child Welfare Act. After expedited briefing and argument, the Fifth Circuit reversed a decision striking down ICWA. Now the court will rehear Brackeen en banc.

2. Sharp v. Murphy (formerly Carpenter v. Murphy) — This case captured the attention of Indian country more for the procedural drama (never thought those two words would ever go together) than the merits. A death penalty appeal in which the parties (state, tribe, guy-on-death-row, and US) barely mention that fact, Murphy is a reservation boundaries case that makes for exciting, if not accurate, media (Oklahoma could return to Indian reservation status!). The parties sparred at oral argument, the Court asked for more briefing, the This Land podcast went national, the end of the Term approached, and then . . . nothing. The apparent 4-4 tie of the justices led the Court to push the case to the next Term, and then more nothing. Now the Court has granted cert in McGirt v. Oklahoma, likely to decide the same issues as Murphy but with a full complement of judges.

3. Herrera v. Wyoming — The Court ruled 5-4 that the 1868 treaty right to hunt on unoccupied lands applied to the lands of the Bighorn National Forest. The Court also conclusively overruled Ward v. Racehorse, an ancient decision holding that statehood could abrogate treaty rights.

4. Washington State Dept. of Licensing v. Cougar Den — The Court ruled 5-4, but with no majority opinion, that a treaty right to travel on highways preempted a state tax on fuels moving through grounds transportation (or alternatively, granted a right to move goods without state interference).

The rest of the cases are lower court matters ranked by number of views on Turtle Talk. Here they are:

5. Williams v. Big Picture Loans — The Fourth Circuit ruled that tribal sovereign immunity applies to tribally owned businesses that conduct internet lending operations.

6. Swinomish Tribe v. BNSF — This case is pending before the Ninth Circuit. It received outsized attention because of an order by the panel to BNSF requiring it to explain how its characterization of legal authorities, the record, and the arguments of the tribe met its duty of candor to the court.

7. Free v. Dellinger — This case in the Western District of Oklahoma sought an order enjoining tribal jurisdiction over a nonmember. The case likely received a bunch of hits because that nonmember was Kalyn Free.

8. Davilla v. Enable Midstream Partners — The Tenth Circuit last January ordered the defendant to remove a pipeline from Indian lands.

9. Spurr v. Pope — The Sixth Circuit affirmed tribal court jurisdiction to issue a civil PPO against a nonmember under the 2013 VAWA tribal jurisdictional provisions.

10. FMC Corp. v. Shoshone-Bannock Tribes — The Ninth Circuit affirmed tribal jurisdiction over a nonmember, confirming a tribal court judgment involving millions. FMC was represented by a noted SCT practitioner, so expect a serious Supreme Court challenge in 2020.

SCOTUS Grants Cert in McGirt v. Oklahoma [Creek Reservation Boundaries Criminal Appeal]

Here are the cert stage materials in McGirt v. Oklahoma:

mcgirt-cert-petition.pdf

appendix.pdf

oklahoma-brief-in-opposition.pdf

Friday’s order list here.

News coverage here and here.