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Biden administration hosts listening sessions on U.S. Supreme Court decision
Thursday, September 15, 2022

The Biden administration is hosting two listening sessions to hear from tribes about the controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision in Castro-Huerta v. Oklahoma.

The sessions take place on September 26 and September 27. They are being co-hosted by the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior.

“On June 29, 2022, the Supreme Court held that the General Crimes Act does not preempt or otherwise limit state criminal jurisdiction to prosecute non-Indian defendants who commit crimes against Indian victims in Indian country,” an appendix attached to a Dear Tribal Leader letter reads. “In so holding, the Court rejected the United States’ longstanding position that under the General Crimes Act, federal jurisdiction is exclusive of state jurisdiction in Indian country over crimes committed against Indian victims unless Congress has statutorily delegated such authority.”

“The Court also made clear that its decision was not limited to the State of Oklahoma but instead ‘applies throughout the United States,'” the document adds.

Dear Tribal Leader Letter: Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta

The document asks tribes to share whether the Castro-Huerta decision has impacted their law enforcement and justice systems. It also asks whether the case has affected existing agreements or processes with state or federal agencies.

“The Supreme Court left open the possibility that Congress, exercising its plenary power over Indian affairs, could abrogate its decision by legislation,” DOJ and DOI point out. “Unless Congress acts, however, ‘States may exercise jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed by non-Indians against Indians in Indian country.'”

Tribal leaders have called Castro-Huerta one of the worst in recent history. It arose after officials in Oklahoma challenged a landmark decision that in fact recognized the continued existence of Indian Country in the state.

“In the past two years, the five tribes here in Oklahoma have been challenged on our treaty rights, rooted in law by those who are trying to chip away at tribes and our rights to self-govern,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. of the Cherokee Nation said on Tuesday, during the announcement of a Sovereignty Run to raise awareness of the threats.

“We have taken to the U.S. Supreme Court steps twice and been reaffirmed that our reservations have always existed, and yet presented with more legal challenges,” Hoskin added.

Listening Sessions: Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta
Monday, September 26, 2022
3-5pm Eastern
Registration Link:

Tuesday, September 27, 2022
3-5pm Eastern
Registration Link:

U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta
Syllabus | Opinion [Kavanaugh] | Dissent [Gorsuch] | Complete Document

U.S. Supreme Court Documents in Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta
Questions Presented | Docket Sheet: No. 21-429 | Oral Argument Transcript | Day Call

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