US Supreme Court May Take Up Case On Tribal Jurisdiction: Tulsa v. Hooper

It’s the ongoing battle between tribal, versus municipal jurisdiction- the case of Tulsa v. Hooper. 

Thursday, August 3rd 2023, 5:28 pm

It’s the ongoing battle between tribal, versus municipal jurisdiction- the case of Tulsa v. Hooper. 

In less than 24 hours, the US Supreme Court will make a decision on Tulsa v. Hooper.

In 2018, Justin Hooper got a $150 speeding ticket from Tulsa police. After the McGirt decision in 2020, Hooper appealed the fine, claiming that Tulsa lacked jurisdiction because he was a tribal member.

The case went to the Federal District Court, who sided with the city of Tulsa. The State Supreme Court also sided with the city of Tulsa.

Then the case went to a higher court, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, who ruled in favor of Hooper.

Now, it’s in the hands of the United States Supreme Court.

We talked with tribal court Judge Robert Don Gifford about what options SCOTUS has ahead of tomorrow’s decision.

“If the Supreme Court no longer takes up the case, the law of the 10th Circuit will remain in place and traffic citations, municipal DUI and simple assault will remain with tribal court. Any felonies would go to the federal court,” said Gifford.

SCOTUS could also reverse the Hooper decision.

“It will give jurisdiction back to the city of Tulsa,” said Gifford.

The Supreme Court could also grant concurrent jurisdiction to the tribes and state. In that case, both tribal and municipal law enforcement agencies would share the territory. 

“It comes down to the cooperation between law enforcement agencies,” said Gifford.

The city of Tulsa argues that SCOTUS will likely grant a review because of the Curtis Act, a 1898 law that granted Congress control over affairs in Indian territory.

“There's a very strong argument that the Curtis Act is not applicable, that the city of Tulsa does not have jurisdiction,” said Gifford.

A court document signed by multiple tribes says “because Mr. Hooper is an Indian, the city of Tulsa, as a political subdivision of Oklahoma, lacks criminal jurisdiction over him within the Creek Reservation.”

Governor Stitt has been very outspoken about this case, saying he was “encouraged that SCOTUS delayed the implementation of the 10th Circuit decision…”

“We have a system of justice that the Tulsa Police Department cannot write a speeding ticket, that's a problem,” said Stitt.

The US Supreme Court has already granted two stays on the case in just the last two weeks. Their most recent stay expires Friday at 4 p.m., and justices are expected to decide whether or not they plan to take up the case.


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