Things That Matter

Thousands Of Immigration Advocates Take To The SCOTUS Steps To #FightForFamilies

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments for United States v. Texas, a case that will determine the fate of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). Countless of Twitter users are using the hashtag  #FightForFamilies to express their support for two programs that could grant deportation relief to millions.

Supporters flooded the steps of the Supreme Court building in favor of DAPA and DACA+.

Credit: @NCAPAtweets  / Twitter

The court’s ruling could affect as many as 4 million people.

At the heart of the case is the chance to keep families together by giving the parents of kids like these relief from deportation.

Credit: @FWD_us / Twitter

There are specific criteria for qualifying for DAPA. Among these are having no major criminal record and having a child living legally in the United States.

Seriously, the Supreme Court steps are LIT today.

Credit: @pilitobar87 / Twitter

Liiikkuh, so very lit.

Credit: @DefineAmerican / Twitter

?This land is your land; this land it my land.?

The case is drawing out some of big names in favor of deportation relief. Among them is Dolores Huerta…

Credit: @FWD_us / Twitter

…and Sophie Cruz. Yes, the Sophie Cruz that stopped the Pope’s motorcade and stole all our hearts in the process.

Credit: @theJenMartin / Twitter

It’s not just humans in support of DAPA. This little pup is also standing on the right side of history.

Credit: @colleenhaggerty / Twitter

#Adorable #FamilyGoals

Both Democratic presidential candidates weighed in on Twitter over this historic court case.

Credit: @SenSanders / Twitter

Of course, Bernie Sanders was the first one to say something about the case.

Hillary Clinton published a short video highlighting someone who would be affected if DAPA is struck down.

Credit: @HillaryClinton / Twitter

Are there anti-DAPA supporters? Sure, but it looks like pro-DAPA is a stronger chorus on the SCOTUS steps.

Credit: @TUSK81 / Twitter

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down their decision on the case as early as June. Until then, we wait and listen to anything the SCOTUS justices might say.

READ: Here Is Everything You Need To Know About The DAPA Case Heading To The Supreme Court

Register to vote today by downloading the Latinos Vote app for iOS and Android. Our voice matters. #WeAreAmerica

The Supreme Court Issued A Landmark Decision Confirming That Almost Half Of Oklahoma Is Native American Land

Things That Matter

The Supreme Court Issued A Landmark Decision Confirming That Almost Half Of Oklahoma Is Native American Land

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / Getty Images

The 2020 Supreme Court season will be one for the record books, as the court handed down several major decisions that impacted the lives of millions of Americans.

From outlawing discrimination in the workplace against LGBTQ people to allowing religious employers to deny insurance coverage of contraceptives, it’s been a very consequential Supreme Court season. Now, the court has handed down one of the most important decisions affecting Native American tribes in generations.

The Supreme Court says that the eastern half of Oklahoma is Native American land.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a major ruling that declared a huge swath of Oklahoma as Native American land for certain legal purposes. The ruling affects about half the state and will have major consequences for both past and future criminal and civil cases.

The court’s decision hinged on the question of whether the Creek reservation continued to exist after Oklahoma became a state.

“Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of fed­eral criminal law. Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion.

The decision was 5-4, with Justices Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer in the majority, while Justices John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented

The decision means that only federal authorities, no longer state prosecutors, can lodge charges against Native Americans who commit serious alleged crimes on that land, which is home to 1.8 million people. Of those people, 15% or fewer are Native Americans.

Ruling that these lands are in fact reservations doesn’t mean the tribe owns all the land within the reservation, just like the county doesn’t own all the land within the county. In fact, it probably doesn’t own very much of that land, according to several legal experts.

The ruling will have significant legal implications for eastern Oklahoma.

Credit: Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images

There will be several implications based on the Supreme Court’s decision. First of all, certain major crimes committed within the boundaries of reservations must be prosecuted in federal courts rather than by state courts, if a Native American tribe member is involved.

For example, if a Native American is accused of a major crime in downtown Tulsa, the federal government rather than the state government will prosecute it. Less serious crimes involving Native Americans on American Indian land will be handled in tribal courts. This arrangement is already common in Western states like Arizona, New Mexico and Montana.

The ruling will also affect past decisions – many of which are now considered wrongful conditions because the state lacked jurisdiction. A number of criminal defendants who have been convicted in the past will now have grounds to challenge their convictions, arguing that the state never had jurisdiction to try them.

The decision is a major win for Native Americans, but so much more work needs to be done.

“The Supreme Court today kept the United States’ sacred promise to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of a protected reservation,” the tribe said in a statement. “Today’s decision will allow the Nation to honor our ancestors by maintaining our established sovereignty and territorial boundaries.”

The same day that the court issued its landmark Oklahoma decision, a federal judge also ordered that oil must stop flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline, which runs from North Dakota to Illinois. The deadline is August 5.

Of course, these are major legal victories. But taken together, they only highlight the ongoing legal issues and discrimination that Native American tribes face. To realize a complete vision of Indigenous sovereignty and environmental justice takes people power — the kind that energized the 2016 Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline but that in fact goes back much further.

In 2007, the International Indian Treaty Council, alongside other international Indigenous organizations, helped draft the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Although imperfect — declarations are, after all, aspirational and nonbinding — the declaration provides a universal mechanism for free, prior and informed consent with Indigenous nations over the decision-making process of development projects.

A major win for Native American tribes in the United States would hinge on Indigenous authority over lands that they control and landscapes that they have historic and cultural ties to.

The Supreme Court Ruled In Favor Of Allowing States To Punish Electoral College

Entertainment

The Supreme Court Ruled In Favor Of Allowing States To Punish Electoral College

Stefani Reynolds / Getty

News straight from the Supreme Court might just mean a more fair election this 2020. According to reports, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing states to reprimand members of the Electoral College should they break a pledge to vote for their state’s popular vote winner for presidential elections. The decision comes heavily on the heels of the looming election season.

The decision was sparked after 10 of the 538 presidential electors made their own decisions in 2016 and voted for candidates other than the one they’d pledged to vote for.

Up until Monday, only 32 out of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia had laws that discouraged “faithless electors.” At that time, none of the states had ever actually reprimanded or removed an elector based on their vote. The Supreme Court decision came with a 9-0 count.

“Today, we consider whether a State may also penalize an elector for breaking his pledge and voting for someone other than the presidential candidate who won his State’s popular vote. We hold that a State may do so,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote.”The Constitution’s text and the Nation’s history both support allowing a State to enforce an elector’s pledge to support his party’s nominee — and the state voters’ choice — for President.”

In 2016, three presidential electors in Washington state voted for Colin Powell over the popular votes push for Hillary Clinton. Another voted for anti-Keystone XL pipeline activist Faith Spotted Eagle. At the time, Washington’s Supreme Court upheld a $1,000 fine.

In Colorado, during the 2016 election, Micheal Baca attempted to vote for John Kasich instead of Clinton but his vote was rejected. He was removed and replaced and referred for a potential perjury prosecution. No charges were filed, however. According to CNN, Baca “filed suit, and ultimately won when the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals held that while the state does have the power to appoint electors, that does not extend to the power to remove them.”

Oddly, Frodo Baggins, the beloved hobit from the Lord of The Rings trilogy became a part of the court’s historical record during oral arguments.

According to reports, Justice Clarence Thomas used Baggins as an example “The elector who had promised to vote for the winning candidate could suddenly say, ‘You know, I’m going to vote for Frodo Baggins. I really like Frodo Baggins.’ And you’re saying, under your system, you can’t do anything about that,” Thomas asked.

During the case, Justice Kagan went through the history of the Electoral College and spoke about the presidential election of 1796. The election was the first contested presidential election in the United States and saw John Adams come in first and Thomas Jefferson second. “That meant the leaders of the era’s two warring political parties—the Federalists and the Republicans—became President and Vice President respectively. (one might think of this as fodder of the new season of Veep),” Kagan wrote.

Kagan also referenced Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical “Hamilton” nothing that “Alexander Hamilton secured his place on the Broadway stage—but possibly in the cemetery too—by lobbying Federalists in the House to tip the election to Jefferson, whom he loathed but viewed as less of an existential threat to the republic,” she wrote. Justice Thomas agreed with Kagan writing “nothing in the Constitution prevents States from requiring Presidential electors to vote for the candidate chosen by the people.”

Here’s hoping this new change in the Supreme Court ruling ensures a better election outcome.