Newswire: Supreme Court rules most of Oklahoma is Indian territory

By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet.Today

Map of Oklahoma, showing Indian territory

Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring 3 million acres of land Indian Territory in Oklahoma traces its history back to Andrew Jackson and the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which forcibly removed from their native lands in Alabama and Georgia so hundreds of thousands of acres could be given to white farmers.
The explusion is known as “The Trail of Tears,” which involved the relocation of estimated 100,000 Native Americans, forcing them to relocate from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Historians estimated that as many as 15,000 men, women and children died on their way to the first Indian reservations. The Trail of Tears was more than 5,043 miles. The tribes driven off their land were Cherokee, Chickasaw, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Choctaw, mixed race people and African slaves.
The U.S. Supreme Court in a 5 to 4 decision in a case titled McGirt v. Oklahoma ruled that a large swath of land in Oklahoma, including Tulsa, remained part of the reservation even after Oklahoma became a state.
“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 at its word,” Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion. Gorsuch was joined in his opinion by Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Beyer.
Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh voted against the ruling.
“On the far end of the Trail of Tears was a promise. Forced to leave their ancestral lands in Georgia and Alabama, the Creek Nation received assurances that their new land in the West would be secured forever,” Gorsuch wrote.
Following the ruling, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation issued the following statement.
“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. We will continue to work with federal and state law enforcement agencies to ensure that public safety will be maintained throughout the territorial boundaries of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.”
Muscogee (Creek) Nation is the fourth largest Indian Tribe in the country. After the Civil War, the Creek Nation, whose members fought both for the Confederacy and the Union, freed black slaves under a new treaty in 1866 with the federal government.
The former slaves, now known as Creek Freedmen, settled in Tulsa , Oklahoma’s Greenwood District, where they established a significant concentration of black-owned businesses known as Black Wall Street. In one of the nation’s worst race massacres, whites destroyed Black Wall Street and murdered 300 of its residents burning their homes and businessness.
In 1979, Creek Freedmen were forced out of the tribe. Lawyers for Creek Freedmen filed a lawsuit to get them re-admitted to the tribe. In 2018, Creek Freedmen filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court against the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief James Floyd, the United States Department of the Interior and Secretary Ryan Zinke. The lawsuit alleged that under Article 2 of the Creek Treaty of 1866 between the United States and Muscogee Creek Nation that Freedmen and their descents regardless of blood status shall enjoy all the rights of Native citizens. The lawsuit charged the Muscogee Creek Nation and its federal benefactors perpetuated race-based discrimination against the Creek Freedman.
In May 2019, a lawsuit from the descendants of black slaves who were once owned by members of the Muscogee Creek Nation and who are seeking citizenship in the tribe has been dismissed, with a federal judge ruling that they should go through the tribe’s own legal process first. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington, D.C., dismissed the Muscogee Creek freedmen descendants’ lawsuit this week seeking citizenship in the Creek Nation the Tulsa World reported.
The lawsuit charged that the Muscogee Creek Nation has spent the last four decades denying citizenship to the Creek Freedmen by rewriting its tribal constitution and citizenship regulations with the blessings of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The titled case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court involved Jimey McGirt and Patrick Murphy. Murphy, a Creek Indian, had been convicted of murdering George Jacobs in rural Oklahoma. His lawyers argued the federal government could prosecute him, but federal law barred Murphy from being sentenced to death because he was an Indian.
McGirt, a Seminole Indian, was convicted in a state court of sex crimes against a child within the Creek nation. His lawyers argued that only federal authorities are entitled to prosecute him, not state officials.
Andrew Jackson forced Indians from their land before he was elected the nation’s seventh president from 1829 to 1837. U.S. Congressman Davey Crocket of Tennessee vehemently opposed Andrew Jackson for forcing Indians off their lands. This was never mentioned once on Walt Disney’s television show.
Jackson, Mississippi, is named in honor of Andrew Jackson. Recently, the City of Jackson has either removed or plans to remove his statute, placing it in a less prominent location.

Newswire- Supreme Court sends mixed Civil Rights signals as America celebrates July 4th

By Hamil R. Harris

Supreme Court

( – On the eve of America’s celebration of its 243rd Independence Day, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down rulings that sent mixed messages to Civil Rights groups at a time when President Trump and Republicans hope to tilt the 2020 presidential elections their way.
In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that the issue of partisan gerrymandering (drawing district lines in order to achieve political outcomes) does not belong in federal court and should be decided by state legislatures. Conservatives applauded that decision because it comes on the eve of the 2020 Census when state lawmakers configure districts often to benefit whatever party controls their particular state.
While the court rejected challenges to Republican-drawn congressional districts in North Carolina and a Democratic district in Maryland, the decision was still a major blow to critics who have argued for years that partisan manipulation of electoral maps unfairly results in single-party political control. The 5-4 decision fell along traditional conservative-liberal lines. Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Chief Justice John Roberts voted to keep the redistricting cases out of the federal courts. And liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer voted to maintain federal jurisdiction over the cases.
Speaking for the conservative majority, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that while redistricting plans “are highly partisan by any measure,” the Supreme Court and lower courts are not the venues to settle these disputes. With this decision, Civil Rights groups say the court is giving state houses, mostly controlled by Republicans, more power to tilt things in their ideological direction.
But writing for the four dissenting judges, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, who was appointed by President Obama, said, “For the first time ever, this court refuses to remedy a constitutional violation because it thinks the task beyond judicial capabilities.”
In the case of Rucho V. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek, NAACP President Derrick Johnson, said in a statement, “The Court’s rulings are allowing party politics to determine the outcomes of our elections…Extreme partisan gerrymandering has infected our electoral process for far too long. Exercise of the franchise, which many fought and even died for, must not be reduced to a political charade in which the outcomes are predetermined. In America, voters should choose their representatives instead of representatives choosing their voters.”
Johnson concluded that the high court should have halted what the NAACP and other civil rights advocates consider unconstitutional conduct, but it did not. Therefore, he contends, this is a throwback racism of the past.
“In racially polarized environments like North Carolina where racial block voting is standard, today’s decision will license policymakers to mask racial intent as partisan gerrymandering in order to suppress votes and prevent communities from fully participating in democracy to elect candidates of their choice,” Johnson stated.
The court’s decision basically reverses the outcome of rulings in Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina and Ohio, where lower courts had ordered new maps drawn and it ends proceedings in Wisconsin, where a retrial was supposed to take place later this summer.
Supreme Court decision in Census case more acceptable
On the other hand, the NAACP and members of the Congressional Black Caucus applauded the court ruling in the case of the Department of Commerce v. New York that blocks the Trump Administration’s attempt to insert a citizenship question into the 2020 Census based on the pretext of enforcing the Voting Rights Act (VRA).
“I am very pleased that the Supreme Court ruled today that the Trump Administration may not add the citizenship question to the 2020 Census based on the Administration’s claim that it was trying to protect voting rights,” said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), referring to the 5-4 decision where Robert’s decided with the most liberal leaning justices on the bench.
Cummings, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Operations Committee, challenged President Trump’s move from the very beginning after his Secretary of Commerce added the citizenship question to the upcoming 2020 Census form.
“Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross testified before Congress that the Trump Administration was adding the citizenship question to the census ‘solely’ at the request of the Justice Department to help enforce the Voting Rights Act,” Cummings said in a statement. “The Supreme Court has now eviscerated this claim, calling it a ‘pretext,’ ‘contrived,’ and ‘incongruent with what the record reveals.’
Some have suggested that Secretary Ross could go back and offer other reasons for adding the citizenship question. However, any claim now that the Trump Administration had other reasons for adding the citizenship question would directly contradict Secretary Ross’ sworn testimony that helping the Justice Department enforce the Voting Rights Act was the Administration’s sole purpose.
Johnson said that the NAACP also welcomed the court ruling, which he said stopped the Trump administration’s fraudulent efforts to suppress votes in the upcoming Presidential election.
“Through various means, the Trump administration is deliberately seeking to undercount communities of color in the 2020 Census, a ploy designed to increase the political power of Whites at the expense of already underrepresented communities,” Johnson said. “Weakening the political representation of communities of color has been a stain on our democracy since its founding. The Three-Fifths Compromise of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 counted enslaved black people as three-fifths of a person in apportioning congressional districts. Since that time, the Census has severely undercounted the communities of color.”
This week President Trump has planned a huge 4th of July celebration, complete with a military parade and even a jet fly over in Washington DC. But Johnson wrote that President Trump would do better by stopping his effort to take Democracy away from so many vulnerable people whether it is through a census or mass deportations scheduled sometimes after the holiday.
“The citizenship question was not made for the reasons put forth by Secretary Ross,” Johnson said. “Rather, it was a bald-faced effort to benefit one race and one political party at the expense of some of our nation’s most vulnerable communities. This astounding truth can no longer be swept under the rug. It is there for all to see.”

Newswire : Supreme Court upholds Muslim travel ban

by: Frederick Lowe, Northstar News

Supreme Court.jpg

U. S. Supreme Court building

The U.S. Supreme Court handed President Trump a major victory Tuesday by upholding his ban on immigrants and visitors from seven mostly Muslim countries.
In a 5-4 ruling in the case titled Trump v. Hawaii, the justices rejected the argument that Trump overstepped his authority under immigration laws and that the targeting of mostly Muslim-majority countries amounted to religious discrimination.
Chief Justice John Roberts who wrote the majority opinion said the ruling concerned the nation’s security.
Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined by Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the court’s ruling blindly endorsed a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity towards Muslims.
Sotomayor added that the ruling is a total and complete shutdown of Muslims coming to this country under a façade masquerading as national security measures.
Trump’s order issued in September 2017 was the third version of the travel ban. It imposed a 90-day ban on citizens from Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia Yemen, North Korea, and Venezuela entering the U.S. Later, the order put a 120-day hold on the admission of refugees.
“The Supreme Court has upheld the clear authority of the President to defend the national security of the United States. In this era of worldwide terrorism and extremist movements bent on harming innocent civilians, we must properly vet those coming into our country,” Trump said in a statement.
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, advocacy and rights groups warned of an increase in attacks against Muslims, reported Al Jazeera.
Since Trump took office, reports of crimes against Muslims have climbed, Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman of Council on American-Islamic Relations, told Al Jazeera.