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SCOTUS Rejects White Privilege, Says Tribal Cops Can Pull Us Over

Last year, Marty Jackley defended a white rancher who ran a tribal covid-19 checkpoint because he didn’t think white folks had to listen to tribal law enforcement. The Dewey County state’s attorney agreed to drop the eluding charge against the rancher because the tribal law enforcement officer in question didn’t technically meet South Dakota’s statutory definition of a law enforcement officer. A magistrate judge still found the rancher guilty of failing to stop for an emergency vehicle.

If all those unvaccinated South Dakotans contribute to a new mutation and outbreak of coronavirus and thus prompt our tribal neighbors to set up checkpoints again to protect themselves from the white man’s foolishness, white ranchers and Jackley might want to think twice about dismissing the authority of tribal law enforcement. On Monday, the United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously in United States v Joshua James Cooley that Crow, Lakota, and other tribal law enforcement officials can stop Indians and non-Indians alike to protect their communities:

In the opinion issued by Justice Stephen Breyer, the court found that restricting tribal law enforcement officers from stopping, searching and temporarily detaining non-Native people could compromise officers’ ability to protect the “health or welfare of the tribe.” That language stems from a previous case, Montana v. United States, in which the court ruled against the Crow Tribe’s ability to regulate fishing and hunting by non-tribal members on land that is not owned by the tribe. That limitation on the tribe’s enforcement authority, Breyer wrote, was issued with important exceptions, including a provision for responding to threats against a tribe’s health or welfare.

“To deny a tribal police officer authority to search and detain for a reasonable time any person he or she believes may commit or has committed a crime would make it difficult for tribes to protect themselves against ongoing threats,” Breyer wrote in the Cooley decision. “Such threats may be posed by, for instance, non-Indian drunk drivers, transporters of contraband, or other criminal offenders operating on roads within the boundaries of a tribal reservation” [Mara Silvers, “U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Tribal Law Enforcement Authority over Non-Natives,” Montana Free Press, 2021.06.01].

Native groups are naturally pleased with this affirmation of their sovereignty:

“Protecting our tribal citizens is one of the most basic services we can provide, and today every member of the Supreme Court agreed,” said Fawn Sharp, President of the National Congress of American Indians. “This 9-0 decision is one of the strongest affirmations of tribal sovereignty in a generation and helps secure Native communities. For too long, non-Native criminals escaped justice from crimes committed on tribal lands, but today’s unanimous decision in United States v. Cooley is monumental in changing that. We applaud this decision and look forward to advocating for our member tribes as they improve safety and security in tribal communities as a result of this new precedent” [National Congress of American Indians, press release, 2021.06.01].

So remember, Marty and friends: being white does not grant you privilege to ignore Indian cops. If you see cherries in the rear-view on your way to Timber Lake, the Supreme Court says you’ve got to pull over.


  1. grudznick 2021-06-03

    Who would want to go to Timber Lake? Or for that matter, Martin?

  2. Mark Anderson 2021-06-03

    Grudz blows it at the East Wind Casino.

  3. Eve Fisher 2021-06-03

    Wonderful news – and about time.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-06-03

    Judge Lange offered a solidly conservative judicial opinion. Governor Noem wants the Judiciary to help her supplant the proper Executive authority of the federal government.

  5. Arlo Blundt 2021-06-03

    Well…In a 9-0 decision the Justices found that Tribes have an overriding interest in keeping reservations safe. The opinion says this interest is found in established TREATIES. Its about time we in South Dakota start respecting the treaty rights of tribes.

  6. Lottie 2021-06-03

    No matter what Color a cop is, it seems that is not the issue. What is SD going to do with more people of color moving in? Ohh my! Even with me being Native, i respect the Badge, LOL.

  7. leslie 2021-06-03

    Blue Lives Matter hypocrites RELATED:

    “6.03.21 Ten US Capitol police officers remain off-the-job with injuries sustained during the US Capitol Insurrection.” McFarlane News

  8. Porter Lansing 2021-06-03

    Lets duct tape grudz in a wet sheet and drop him off on main street, in White Clay.

    He needs more respect for the cultural overlords of the prairie.

  9. grudznick 2021-06-04

    And that, Mr. Lansing, is exactly why you out of state name callers and thugs undermine Mr. H and his peaceful bloggings. Thank you for demonstrating your insaneness.

    And drop by any time you want to try to execute your felonious threats with a wet blanket. If you can even get past one of your former goats, you have a real surprise coming.

  10. M 2021-06-04

    After all your posts grud, it’s obvious you are not just a sexist but a racist too. You hate S.D. so we are happy you don’t live here. Now if we can get rid of the rest of likes of you, we could turn this state blue.


  11. Jake 2021-06-04

    Grudz, like all GOP’ers, is pissing down his leg out of fear that SD may turn ‘blue’ – which it will someday when it wakes up to reality. A long, hard slog maybe, but worth it!

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