TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (KJRH) — As Carpenter vs. Murphy is put on hold, Native Americans and attorneys across Oklahoma are waiting to see what’s next in the Supreme Court case.
In the wake of this, Rebecca Nagle is getting national attention for her podcast This Land, which highlights the story.
The case originated in the late 1990s when a Muscogee Creek Nation citizen named Patrick Murphy was charged with murder and sentenced to death by the state. In his appeal, Murphy argued the crime took place on a reservation and that Oklahoma could not prosecute him.
“We were removed here with the promise that this land would always be ours. And so in 2019 if the Supreme Court comes down and says “we’re going to say that it’s not anymore”… that would be like losing our land all over again,” Nagle said.
The Supreme Court was tasked with looking at if the reservation was ever abolished by Congress. After hearing arguments, the case was re-scheduled to be heard again next term.
“I was prepared for every outcome except for that one. I think nobody saw that coming. I think the main legal question for this case in a way is kind of black and white,” Nagle said.
Members of the Cherokee Nation believe the impacts of this case could be far-reaching, which is why some attorneys expect the Supreme Court is approaching a decision with caution.
“I think we’re just being set aside, pushed aside. We’re forgotten and here growing up in the community… we’ve always existed,” John Ross said.
Ross joined Nagle on her podcast. They argue for sovereignty while lawyers across the state say ruling in Murphy’s favor could put the state’s legal system into chaos.
“Tribes don’t really have jurisdiction over non-native people. So it’s not going to be like there’s a new sheriff in town if the reservations are affirmed. For non-native Oklahomans… day to day life, the truth is it’s not going to change that much,” Nagle said.
Attorneys tell 2 Works for You it’s not common for cases to be re-heard by the Supreme Court, especially in a subsequent term. The Pittsburg County District Attorney said it’s only happened four times over the last few decades.
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