Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt said the state is considering suing the federal government over its interpretation of the Supreme Court’s ruling on tribal jurisdiction.
It comes after a video call the governor had with the US Department of the Interior this week.
“Basically, they’ve just wrested sovereignty from the state of Oklahoma,” Gov. Stitt said in a phone conversation with News on the 6th.
The governor says the federal government’s interpretation of the Supreme Court’s McGirt decision is completely misplaced.
That ruling ruled, in part, that reservations were never removed in eastern Oklahoma.
“It’s an absolute pass,” Stitt said. “That’s not what the Supreme Court said… and where does it end? “
The governor said the Home Office’s Office of Surface Mine Recovery and Enforcement informed the state of Oklahoma in April that due to the McGirt ruling, the federal government would assume responsibility for mining jurisdiction over Indian lands – specifically the Muscogee Nation.
“My concern is that McGirt was limited to criminals only,” Stitt said. “And so this is the first example of the Biden administration, a federal agency, going in and extending that to civil regulations.”
The governor says the state has had jurisdiction over mines for over 100 years.
He quotes page 39 of the McGirt decision which says the court ruled only on the major crimes law.
On Wednesday, the governor confronted US Home Secretary Deb Haaland about the matter at an annual virtual meeting.
“Why did this happen and why did we take it to civilian life so quickly? Asked the governor on Wednesday.
“What I can tell you today is that on the basis of legal advice, we are moving forward to ensure that the surface mining office will exercise jurisdiction over Indian lands,” Haaland said. by responding to the governor. “I know that’s not an answer you want to hear.”
Gov. Stitt says he fears mining jurisdiction is just the beginning and predicts the federal government may withdraw further civil cases from Oklahoma.
“You talk about agriculture, zoning, it’s all called into question, taxation,” Stitt said.
He says they are now trying to set up meetings in Washington and work with lawyers to potentially take legal action.
The US Department of the Interior sent us this press release when asked to comment.