Friday, July 10, 2020

Indepen-Dunce Week: A Supreme Promise Kept

In the final and most shocking Supreme Court decision of the 2019-2020 term, Justice Gorsuch sided with the court's four liberals to affirm that a healthy chunk of east-central Oklahoma along with most of Tulsa is in fact the Creek Indian Nation because Congress never got around to officially dissolving that promise, and now as many as 1.8 million or so non-Native people are now squatting on various reservations.

The Supreme Court said Thursday that a large swath of eastern Oklahoma remains an American Indian reservation, a decision with potential implications for nearly 2 million residents and one of the most significant victories for tribal rights in years.

The land at issue contains much of Tulsa, the state’s second-largest city. The question for the court was whether Congress officially eliminated the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation when Oklahoma became a state in 1907.

In a 5-to-4 decision invoking the country’s long history of mistreating Native Americans, the court said “we hold the government to its word” and the land Congress promised to the Creek Nation is still Indian land.

“If Congress wishes to withdraw its promises, it must say so. Unlawful acts, performed long enough and with sufficient vigor, are never enough to amend the law,” wrote Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who was joined by the court’s liberal justices.

“To hold otherwise would be to elevate the most brazen and longstanding injustices over the law,” Gorsuch said, “both rewarding wrong and failing those in the right.”

The dissent, led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., warned of significant upheaval in the criminal justice system, and in other areas of government such as taxing and zoning. But state and tribal leaders downplayed those concerns and said they are negotiating an agreement to address jurisdictional issues.

Most directly, the ruling means that federal officers, not state authorities, have the power to prosecute tribal members for major crimes committed in the defined area. Less certain is how the decision affects the authority of state and city leaders when it comes to imposing taxes, zoning laws and other regulations.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter and leaders of five tribal groups issued a joint statement after the ruling indicating they have made “substantial progress toward an agreement” to submit to Congress and the Justice Department that would put in place a “framework of shared jurisdiction.” 
“We have a shared commitment to maintaining public safety and long-term economic prosperity for the Nations and Oklahoma,” according to the statement from Hunter and the Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole nations.

Lawmakers in Washington would have to pass legislation, for instance, for state officials to continue prosecuting crimes involving tribal members in the area affected by the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Somehow I don't see Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats going out of their way to dissolve these five nations anytime soon, which means Oklahoma and Washington DC are going to have to work out an agreement and stick to it.

But this is a huge tribal victory, one that almost certainly means that all of Eastern Oklahoma is Indian Country, along with the existing Osage Reservation northwest of Tulsa.

We'll see what can be worked out.

Thanks, Neil!

Indepen-Dunce Week: Stone Cold Negative

Bill Barr may have dropped the charges against Michael Flynn (who is now completely down the "deep state" conspiracy theory black hole) in order to save Donald Trump, but Barr apparently isn't going to extend convicted dirty tricks artist Roger Stone the same courtesy. If Trump wants to save Stone from reporting to a Georgia prison on Tuesday, he's going to have to order the pardon himself.

The Justice Department supports longtime Trump friend Roger Stone going to prison on Tuesday, according to a new court filing. 
Stone has asked a federal appeals court for emergency help to delay his prison term until September, citing coronavirus. 
But the Justice Department, which has been criticized for going easy on Stone, said the report date of July 14 that was set by his trial judge is "a reasonable exercise of that court's discretion based on the totality of the factual and legal circumstances." 
The Justice Department argument on Thursday sets up how Stone may need to turn to President Donald Trump as his last hope to avoid prison. 
The department told the DC Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday that Stone, 67, hasn't given any legal reasons why he should be treated differently from other convicted felons or kept out of prison at this time. Stone had claimed he had an exceptional situation because his age put him at risk of death from coronavirus in prison. 
Stone has all but conceded he's unlikely to get another reprieve from a court before July 14, when he's set to turn himself in to a federal prison camp in Georgia. In recent weeks, he blanketed online forums with pleas for a presidential pardon. 
Despite Attorney General William Barr calling Stone's case a "righteous" prosecution, Trump has repeatedly said Stone is a victim of the Mueller investigation, which the President, without basis, has called corrupt and illegal. "He can sleep well at night!" Trump wrote on Twitter on June 4 after a Stone supporter tweeted about a pardon. 
Stone's prison term has already been delayed before. 
A federal judge delayed Stone's June 30 prison report date by two weeks, ordering him to spend that time at home essentially in quarantine. The prison in Jesup, Georgia, has reported 10 inmates and three staff testing positive with coronavirus as of Thursday afternoon, with one staff member recovered. It's unclear how many of those cases are in the medium-security prison versus the camp where Stone is to report. 
Stone was indicted in January 2019 on charges including attempting to cover up his efforts to reach WikiLeaks in 2016 to help the Trump campaign access documents stolen by the Russians. Prosecutors argued at the trial that Stone had lied to Congress in 2017 to protect the President. 
A jury found him guilty last November, and Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced him to more than three years in prison in February.

So, absent a presidential commutation or full pardon, Roger's going to prison on Tuesday.  And if that happens, I bet he'll be willing to make a deal to rat out Trump to save himself.

Clock's ticking, Donald. You've talked a good game, but are you willing to risk Barr's wrath?

President Donald Trump implied in a pair of interviews Thursday that he was ready to grant clemency to Roger Stone, his friend and ally who was convicted of, among other things, lying to Congress and is set to go to prison this month.  
Trump is widely expected to pardon or commute Stone's sentence, according to at least half a dozen sources close to the President. 
Asked by Fox News host Sean Hannity whether he's considered a pardon or commutation for Stone, Trump said during a phone interview, "I am always thinking." 
"You'll be watching like everyone else in this case," he said. 
In another interview, with radio host Howie Carr, Trump decried Stone's treatment at the hands of law enforcement and said he may grant his clemency plea. 
"He was framed. He was treated horrible. He was treated so badly," Trump said. 
Told Stone was "praying" for a pardon ahead of the day he is due to report to prison on July 14, Trump said Thursday, those prayers may be worthwhile. 
"If you say he's praying, his prayer may be answered," Trump said. "Let's see what happens." 

Stay tuned.  That pardon could come as soon as tonight.

What will Barr do in response?  Most likely nothing and he'll go around cleaning up the crap all over the floor like he always does, but wouldn't this be funny if it was the last straw?

We'll see.  Should be an interesting weekend to say the least.

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