Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Briefs. Discussion »
Cherokee Nation Supreme Court
Native Brief: TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA - The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court yesterday issued an order saying it would not honor the agreement that was approved in federal court in Washington DC late last month that reinstated 2,800 freedmen descendants, thus allowing them to vote in the special election that was held September 24 and extended to October 8 because of the agreement.
The decision called into question whether or not the results of the special election, which has Bill John Baker leading in the unofficial Cherokee Election Commission result the former most recent Principal Chief Chad Smith by 1,534 votes - 10,633 to 9,099.
This morning the Cherokee Nation issued the following statement to clarify the election process, which appears the election will stand pending any action from a federal court decision by the Northern District of Oklahoma or a federal appellate court:
"The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court issued its order in the foreign judgment certification case stemming from the Nation's filing of the federal order in the Vann case. That case has since been dismissed by Judge Kennedy. The Nash case, in which the Nation is a party, still survives and has been transferred back to the Northern District of Oklahoma in front of Judge Kern. The Nation's Supreme Court did not address the federal Nash case."
"Although our Cherokee Supreme Court is our highest Court, it cannot set aside a federal court order. The Orders in the federal Nash case, which temporarily gave the disenrolled Freedmen their citizenship rights back, including the right to vote in this election, and provided for additional voting days, is a valid court order, binding upon the parties until it is set aside by the Northern District of Oklahoma, or a federal appellate court. The Election Commission is proceeding with counting the absentee ballots, and they will continue with their duties until a certified election result is reached."
"'The Cherokee Nation is a nation of laws, and we pride ourselves on being true to those laws. Chief Crittenden and I agreed to the temporary order because it was far less intrusive and suppressive to our tribal government than what the Plaintiffs had sought. We faced the potential loss of federal funding, interference with our governmental relationship with the United States, and the prospect of not having a determinative election for our principal chief. The United States attorneys were aligned against us with the Plaintiffs. The temporary order merely restored the disenrolled Freedmen to the status quo that they had enjoyed at the time of the original election in June. We had first asked our own Court to reconsider its original decision and restore the status quo, so that the issue could be settled under tribal law, as it should be, but the court declined to act,' stated Diane Hammons, Attorney General."
posted October 12, 2011 12:30 pm edt
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