Riyaz Kanji, who argued on behalf of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, also pushed back against the nation that the tribe's reservation has been diminished. But he too had to react to questions about the potentially significant outcomes the case might have on the ground in Oklahoma -- in other words, how non-Indians would be affected. "If we prevail, state law does not evaporate in the reservation," Kanzji said. "Under this court's doctrines, state law applies in many situations with respect to -- especially with respect to the non-Indians in the area." Disruptions in Oklahoma were in fact brought up by Mansinghani. He claimed that more than 3,000 Indian inmates whose crimes were prosecuted in the state system might seek to have their convictions overturned even though some members of the court pointed out that federal punishments are often harsher. In the words of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the "risk would be too high" for some of the Indian inmates.
A historic morning here at tribal headquarters as Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief David Hill and Second Chief Del Beaver listen live to oral arguments before the Supreme Court in McGirt v. Oklahoma. @indianz @IndianCountry @tulsaworld @TheOklahoman_ pic.twitter.com/yJktsi9rF3— Jason Salsman (@RealJSals) May 11, 2020
But some of Mansinghani figures were not based on actual data but on mathematical assumptions. Since the population in the eastern Oklahoma is about 12 percent Native American, he reasoned that they will commit an equally proportionate number of felonies in the region. "So only including crimes committed by Native Americans, that would be 4,000 new felonies a year that the federal government would have to prosecute," Mansinghani said of these so-called "future" crimes. That number apparently wasn't high enough so Mansinghani decided to double it. "Including crimes where the Native American is the victim, you can take that to about 8,000," he told the court.
“[...] it was very disturbing to see Oklahoma misrepresent the numbers on how many criminals will be ‘released’ if the #SCOTUS maintains the status quo & concludes the Muscogee (Creek) Nation's reservation still exists." -@MKNAGLE, NIWRC Counsel.— National Indigenous Women's Resource Center (@niwrc) May 11, 2020
More at https://t.co/4IBx1dzHvq pic.twitter.com/B1jO1Oz3Gu
Notably, the hearing was Mansinghani's debut before the Supreme Court.
The National Indigenous Women’s Resource was among the scores of tribes, advocates and organizations that supported the continued existence of the Creek Reservation. The group accused the state of Oklahoma of spreading "misinformation" about crime, whose actual statistics show that American Indians and Alaska Natives, women and men alike, are more likely to be victimized than any other racial or ethnic group. The data also shows that the majority of the offenders are non-Indians. "It is disappointing that Oklahoma is spreading misinformation to insight fear about the consequences that a Creek Nation victory will bring,” said Cherrah Giles, a Creek citizen who serves as chair of NIWRC's board. “Affirming the tribe’s reservation will not result in the release of thousands of criminals as suggested, but instead will help to protect and safeguard Oklahoma’s most vulnerable population – Native women and children. "During this morning’s argument, it was clear that several of the Justices understand the importance of maintaining the Court’s current governing precedent that Congress, and Congress alone, can disestablish a reservation created by treaty,” added attorney Mary Kathryn Nagle, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation who helped submit NIWRC's brief. “However, it was very disturbing to see Oklahoma misrepresent the numbers on how many criminals will be ‘released’ if the Supreme Court maintains the status quo and concludes the MCN’s reservation still exists." The case argued on Monday is McGirt v. Oklahoma. It is the second to come before the Supreme Court regarding the status of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. The first was Sharp v. Murphy, which was heard during the court's October 2018 term. But the justices were unable to reach a decision for unexplained reasons, though some have speculated that the absence of Justice Neil Gorsuch from the case prevented the remaining 8 members from coming to a consensus on the dispute. Gorsuch, whose record in Indian law in unprecedented in Supreme Court history, participated in McGirt. Tribal advocates believe his background, which includes resolving reservation status issues, will help convince his colleagues to arrive at a decision. With its building closed to the public due to the coronavirus, the Supreme Court is about to wrap up its current term. McGirt is the only Indian law case on the docket. The October 2019 runs through the end of June so a decision in McGirt should come before then.
Amid #COVID19 pandemic, the U.S. Supreme Court on May 11, 2020, will hear arguments in one of the most important Indian Country cases in decades. Cherokee journalist Rebecca Nagle @rebeccanagle has more in The Atlantic @TheAtlantic. #ThisLand #Sovereigntyhttps://t.co/Pp5IKrs3io— indianz.com (@indianz) May 8, 2020