The Congress shall have Power To …regulate Commerce…with the Indian Tribes…
ARTICLE I, SECTION 8, CLAUSE 3
That’s how it always begins. Very small.
A man living in Oklahoma has a girlfriend who has an ex-boyfriend who gets into it with the man. In a gruesome crime, the ex-boyfriend is murdered, his genitals left on his chest on the side of the road. Not being a criminal mastermind, the man, Murphy, is caught. As there is little doubt and much evidence that he did it, he is tried and convicted of capital murder. The sentenced is death.
Not so fast…
The crime was committed by a member of the Creek Nation. The victim was also a Creek. And it appears that the crime was committed on Creek land. That being the case, the state of Oklahoma would have no jurisdiction, it would be a Federal case, requiring a Federal 9not State) prosecution. Because of the laws and agreements with the Tribes, such a crime cannot have a death penalty unless the tribe agrees to it, which they almost never do.
Not so fast… was it on Creek land? The Treaty of 1831 says that it is, but subsequent treaties (1966) make it less than clear. Did Congress intend to take the land where the crime occurred away? Did they actually do it? Did somebody make a big mistake and forget a sentence in a document more than a century ago?
And if it is Creek Land, what does that mean to the State of Oklahoma? What if the State of Oklahoma, as we’ve known and loved it since 1907, isn’t the state of Oklahoma? what if it’s only half the size it is today?
Absurd, you say? That’s not what the 10th Circuit Court says. And depending on how the Supreme Court rules, it might not be so crazy. By next June there might be a new old Territory and fifty percent less of the State of Oklahoma.
It’s Constitution Thursday on The Dave Bowman Show…