How might Oklahoma’s criminal justice system be affected?
In a dissenting opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts said the decision would destabilise the state’s courts.
He wrote: “The State’s ability to prosecute serious crimes will be hobbled and decades of past convictions could well be thrown out.
“The decision today creates significant uncertainty for the State’s continuing authority over any area that touches Indian affairs, ranging from zoning and taxation to family and environmental law.”
An analysis by The Atlantic magazine of Oklahoma Department of Corrections records found that 1,887 Native Americans were in prison as of the end of last year for offences committed within the boundaries of the tribal territory.
But fewer than one in 10 of those cases would qualify for a new federal trial, according to the research.
Jonodev Chaudhuri, a former chief justice of the Muscogee Nation’s Supreme Court, dismissed talk of legal mayhem.
“This would only apply to a small subset of Native Americans committing crimes within the boundaries.”
How did other tribal leaders react?
In a joint statement, the Five Tribes of Oklahoma – Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole and Muscogee Nation – welcomed the ruling.
They pledged to work with federal and state authorities to agree shared jurisdiction over the land.
“The Nations and the state are committed to implementing a framework of shared jurisdiction that will preserve sovereign interests and rights to self-government while affirming jurisdictional understandings, procedures, laws and regulations that support public safety, our economy and private property rights,” the statement said.