There were many headline-grabbing rulings from the Supreme Court this year, from abortion to guns to school prayer. One important ruling that received somewhat less attention concerned Native American sovereignty – the right of tribes to govern themselves.

Legal scholar Kirsten Matoy Carlson, a specialist in Native American law at Wayne State University, wrote this week about the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta, which addressed how much power states should have in Indian Country. That ruling, which experts say rolled back almost 200 years of legal precedent, was one more example, Carlson writes, of how the court over the past 50 years “has ignored and reversed long-standing principles of federal Indian law that protected tribal sovereignty.”

Meanwhile, Carlson says, Congress has taken the opposite tack and expanded Native rights over the same period.

One of the four justices who dissented from the decision is usually found signing on to more conservative rulings: Neil Gorsuch, a Westerner with much experience in Indian law when he came to the court. Gorsuch wrote the scathing dissent – which was joined by his three liberal colleagues – calling the decision “an embarrassing new entry into the anti-canon of Indian law. … Truly, a more ahistorical and mistaken statement of Indian law would be hard to fathom.”

This week we also explored what the Bible actually says about abortion, the political and economic crisis in Sri Lanka and former President Trump’s connection to the Capitol rioters.

Naomi Schalit

Senior Editor, Politics + Society

Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation Chuck Hoskin Jr. speaks in Tahlequah, Okla. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling is upending decades of law in support of tribes. AP Photo/Michael Woods

Supreme Court reversed almost 200 years of US law and tradition upholding tribal sovereignty in its latest term

Kirsten Matoy Carlson, Wayne State University

For the past 50 years, the Supreme Court has issued rulings that narrow tribal rights while Congress has worked to expand them. A recent ruling struck yet another blow against Native sovereignty.

Members of the Oath Keepers stand outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

Jan. 6 committee set to examine Trump’s connection to Capitol rioters – a militia expert explains this complex relationship

Amy Cooter, Vanderbilt University

Nationalist militia groups like the Oath Keepers have changed over the last several years – especially since the Capitol attack – in a few important ways, generally becoming more extreme.

“Impeach and remove partisan zealots from the court,” reads one protester’s sign in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on July 9, 2022. Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Supreme Court’s ideological rulings are roiling US politics – just as when Lincoln and his Republicans remade the court to fit their agenda

Calvin Schermerhorn, Arizona State University

History shows that political contests over the ideological slant of the court are nothing new.

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