WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Friday left in place a lower court ruling that invalidated a speeding ticket against a Native American man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, because the city is located within the boundaries of an Indian reservation.
The justices rejected an emergency appeal by Tulsa to block the ruling while the legal case continues. The order is the latest consequence of the high court’s landmark 2020 decision that found that much of eastern Oklahoma, including Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation.
Justin Hooper, a citizen of the Choctaw Nation, was cited for speeding in 2018 by Tulsa police in a part of the city within the historic boundaries of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. He paid a $150 fine for the ticket, but filed a lawsuit after the Supreme Court’s ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma. He argued that the city did not have jurisdiction because his offense was committed by a Native American in Indian Country. A municipal court and a federal district court judge both sided with the city, but a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision.
There were no noted dissents among the justices Friday, but Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a short separate opinion, joined by Justice Samuel Alito, in which he said that Tulsa’s appeal raised an important question about whether the city can enforce municipal laws against Native Americans.
Kavanaugh wrote that nothing in the appeals court decision “prohibits the City from continuing to enforce its municipal laws against all persons, including Indians, as the litigation progresses.”