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The U.S. Supreme Court on July 8. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Thursday that nearly half of Oklahoma is a Native American reservation "in the eyes of the criminal justice system," the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The decision prevents the state from being able to prosecute offenses in the Creek Nation reservation that involve Native Americans, per the Times.

Details: Jimcy McGirt, a Muscogee (Creek) Nation member convicted of molesting a child by state authorities, argued to the court that only the federal government could prosecute him because "Congress had never clearly destroyed the sovereignty of the Creek Nation over the area," per the Times.

What they're saying: The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and Native American Rights Fund released a statement on Thursday in support of the court's decision.

  • NCAI president Fawn Sharp said that "this question has loomed over federal Indian law" for two Supreme Court terms. "This morning, NCAI joins the rest of Indian Country in congratulating the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and proudly asserting that its lands remain, and will forever be considered, Indian country — as guaranteed in their treaty relationship with the United States."
  • Democrats on the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee tweeted that the ruling is "a step towards making amends for centuries of paternalism, violence & neglect towards Native Americans."
  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) released a statement on Thursday saying he looked forward to working with the five tribes affected by the ruling "to craft legislation that ensures that the ruling has a minimal impact on individuals and businesses throughout Oklahoma."
  • Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said that, moving forward, the focus will be working with tribal and state officials "to find a workable solution for everyone that ensures criminals are prosecuted and brought to justice in the most appropriate manner."

What's next: Practical consequences for 1.8 million state residents affected by the ruling are vast, "with justices asking in oral arguments how business disputes and adoptions would be affected," per the Times.

Go deeper

Oct 15, 2020 - Health

How a conservative Supreme Court could save the ACA

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Even a solidly conservative Supreme Court could find a pretty easy path to preserve most of the Affordable Care Act — if it wants to.

The big picture: It’s too early to make any predictions about what the court will do, and no ACA lawsuit is ever entirely about the law. They have all been colored by the bitter political battles surrounding the ACA.

Rahm Emanuel questioned on murder of Laquan McDonald in confirmation hearing

Rahm Emanuel during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Oct. 20. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke about the murder of Laquan McDonald during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to become the U.S. ambassador to Japan, saying that "there's not a day or a week that has gone by in the last seven years I haven't thought about this."

Catch up quick: McDonald was a Black teenager who was fatally shot 16 times by Chicago police during Emanuel's tenure as the city's mayor. The 2014 shooting triggered massive protests, both because of its nature and the fact that the officers' body-cam footage was concealed for years.

3 hours ago - World

Biden's ambassador nominee: "China is not an Olympian power"

Nick Burns testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee to serve as ambassador to China delivered a stark assessment of the challenges the U.S. faces in confronting Beijing, but stressed that the rising superpower is "not all-powerful" and the West retains "substantial" advantages.

The big picture: Nicholas Burns, a retired career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to NATO, used his confirmation hearing Wednesday to echo the growing bipartisan consensus that China poses "the greatest threat to the security of our country and the democratic world" in the 21st century.