In a landmark decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled Thursday, that roughly half of the land in Oklahoma, per treaties, is within a Native American reservation.

Legal pundits spent most of Thursday discussing the legal ramifications this may have for past and present court cases. 

The court sought to answer if the Creek reservation existed after Oklahoma became a state.

President Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion. “Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of fed­eral criminal law. Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word,”. 

The ruling was 5-4, with Justices Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer in the majority, while Justices John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation in a statement said, “The Supreme Court today kept the United States’ sacred promise to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of a protected reservation,” 

“Today’s decision will allow the Nation to honor our ancestors by maintaining our established sovereignty and territorial boundaries.”

Chief Justice Roberts, who recently wrote the majority opinion blocking the Louisiana abortion law , wrote the dissenting opinion. “will undermine numerous convictions obtained by the State, as well as the State’s abil­ity to prosecute serious crimes committed in the future,” and “may destabilize the governance of vast swathes of Oklahoma.”

What future legal implications remain to be seen, but in the interim Native Americans are rejoicing.

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JEM
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