New Challenge To Tribal Sovereignty In Oklahoma To Be Heard By Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon begin hearing arguments in the Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta case to decide whether the state has jurisdiction over crimes committed by non-tribal members against tribal members. The State of Oklahoma said the Supreme Court ruling in the summer of 2020 is confusing and they hope this weeks hearing will clear up some of the questions.

Monday, April 25th 2022, 5:42 pm

By: Mallory Thomas, News On 6


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The U.S. Supreme Court will soon begin hearing arguments in the Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta case to decide whether the state has jurisdiction over crimes committed by non-tribal members against tribal members.

The State of Oklahoma said the Supreme Court ruling in the summer of 2020 is confusing and they hope this weeks hearing will clear up some of the questions.

Related Story: US Supreme Court To Hear New Challenge To Tribal Sovereignty In Oklahoma

Victor Castro-Huerta is serving a 35-year sentence in state prison for child neglect. He was convicted in Tulsa County in 2015 and his case has made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court because his victim is a tribal member, which means the jurisdiction of who can prosecute him is in question. Castro-Huerta is Hispanic.

Cherokee Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the Oklahoma tribes believe Castro-Huerta's conviction is an overreach by the state based on the Supreme Court 2020 ruling on tribal jurisdiction.

“An effort to undermine tribal sovereignty and turn the clock back on McGirt. It’s breathtaking that the governor has gone to the Supreme Court, asking it to turn back on the United States promise to Indian tribes. That’s not a 21st century view of state tribal relations or United States tribal relations," Chief Hoskin, Jr. said.

Governor Stitt's office released a statement saying, in part, "Governor Stitt believes that the State should be able to protect all Oklahomans, regardless of race, and no criminal should go unpunished." and "Castro-Huerta should not be given any chance to get off easy for this crime and the state will argue that it has the right to protect Indian victims in front of the Supreme Court this week.”

Sara Hill is the Attorney General for Cherokee Nation and said they welcome more clarity from the high court.

“We would like to have more options to deal with what the rules should be in Indian country. That’s something that we have affirmatively sought, so I do think that there is room for solutions," said Hill.

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