Oklahoma Supreme Court Denies Hearing on Tribal Compacts

Mike Seals - September 18, 2020 10:40 am

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected Gov. Kevin Stitt’s attempt for another hearing regarding the court’s earlier ruling that deemed the state’s tribal gaming compacts with two Native American tribes invalid.

The high court Monday voted 5-1 to deny the rehearing. In July, the court determined Stitt’s compacts with the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribe were not valid because the Republican governor overstepped his authority by trying to greenlight sports betting and house-banked card and table games. The ruling also concluded that state law prohibits those types of games.

The governor requested the rehearing so the high court could clarify whether parts of the compacts that do not conflict with state law remain valid and explain his authority in entering cooperative agreements with sovereign tribes.

But the court denied the hearing without comment, with Justice M. John Kane IV dissenting and Justices Tom Colbert and James Edmondson recusing from the decision, the Oklahoman reported Wednesday.

“This denial of a rehearing further underscores that Gov. Stitt’s go-it-alone approach is not legal nor helpful in moving state-tribal relationships forward,” Matthew L. Morgan, chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, said in a statement.

The state Supreme Court ruling that decided the tribal compacts were invalid stemmed from a lawsuit filed against Stitt by state’s top Republican leaders, Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat and House Speaker Charles McCall.

Meanwhile, the governor’s office said the state Supreme Court doesn’t have the final say, adding that a Washington, D.C., federal court is handling the case.

“The ruling in that case will determine the validity of the compacts under federal law,” said Baylee Lakey, the governor’s communications director.

PHOTO BELOW: In this Aug. 18, 2020 file photo, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt answers a question during a news conference at the Central Oklahoma PPE distribution warehouse Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma had the fifth highest rate of newly reported coronavirus cases last week, according to a report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force report released Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, and the task force is again recommending a statewide mandate require masks. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)


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