Chair Grijalva Statement on SCOTUS Decision in Castro-Huerta v. Oklahoma

Washington, D.C. – Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today issued the following statement on yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Castro-Huerta v. Oklahoma. The Court ruled 5-to-4, with Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Neil Gorsuch dissenting.

“The majority decision in Castro-Huerta v. Oklahoma is outright colonialism. It brazenly overwrites foundational Federal Indian law that has consistently reinforced tribal governments’ inherent right to self-governance. The ruling contends that tribes cannot be trusted to exercise their sovereign authorities over criminal matters, an offensive argument that reeks of paternalism.

“We cannot let this politically extremist version of the Court simply topple the pillars of tribal judicial systems with one fell swoop. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to stand with me against this decision and heed Justice Gorsuch’s urging to ‘honor this nation’s promises’ to tribes. Upholding the federal government’s obligations to Indian Country is one of our highest, most solemn duties and I intend to use every means in my power to do it.”

In his dissent, Justice Gorsuch remarked, “One can only hope the political branches and future courts will do their duty to honor this nation's promises even as we have failed today to do our own."

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