Indianz.Com > COVID-19 > U.S. Supreme Court
Posted: March 16, 2020
U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

The U.S. Supreme Court, in an unprecedented move, is postponing arguments that were to take place between March 23-25 and March 30-April 1.

The action, announced on Monday, does not immediately address what will happen to the only Indian law hearing on the docket: McGirt v. Oklahoma, whose outcome will determine the jurisdictional status of the reservation of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

Arguments in McGirt have been scheduled for April 21. Any remaining briefs must continue to be filed, as “filing deadlines are not extended,” according to the high court’s announcement.

A postponement in McGirt would represent yet another dramatic turn for Indian Country. The justices, during their last session, were unable to reach a decision in a similar case affecting the reservation of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

The case  affects which governments — tribal, federal and state — have authority to prosecute crimes on lands promised to the tribe by treaty. Millions of acres in eastern Oklahoma are at issue.

Muscogee (Creek) Nation

From left: Second Chief Del Beaver, Creek National Council Second Speaker Darrell Proctor, Creek National Council Speaker Randall Hicks, Principal Chief David Hill, Secretary of Education Greg Anderson and Creek Nation Ambassador Jonodev Chaudhuri at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on February 11, 2020. Photo courtesy Jason Salsman / Muscogee (Creek) Nation

Our last update on McGirt:

Supreme Court schedules hearing in lone Indian Country case:


For Immediate Release
March 16, 2020

In keeping with public health precautions recommended in response to COVID-19, the Supreme Court is postponing the oral arguments currently scheduled for the March session (March 23-25 and March 30-April 1). The Court will examine the options for rescheduling those cases in due course in light of the developing circumstances.

The Court will hold its regularly scheduled Conference on Friday, March 20. Some Justices may participate remotely by telephone. The Court will issue its regularly scheduled Order List on Monday, March 23 at 9:30 a.m. The list will be posted on the Court’s Website at that time:

The Building will continue to be open for official business, and filing deadlines are not extended under Rule 30.1. The Court is expanding remote working capabilities to reduce the number of employees in the Building, consistent with public health guidance. The Building will remain closed to the public until further notice.

The Court’s postponement of argument sessions in light of public health concerns is not unprecedented. The Court postponed scheduled arguments for October 1918 in response to the Spanish flu epidemic. The Court also shortened its argument calendars in August 1793 and August 1798 in response to yellow fever outbreaks.

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