It’s hard to overstate what a week it has been for Native Americans in this nation. Just yesterday, the Washington Genocidal Racists have decided to dump their obviously racist name. The president of the Navajo Nation:
“This change did not come about willingly by the team’s owners, but by the mounting pressure and advocacy of Indigenous peoples such as Amanda Blackhorse, and many other warriors who fought long and hard for this change.” (Read full statement below) pic.twitter.com/uukrxvDrtU
— Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez (@NNPrezNez) July 13, 2020
More important ultimately was Neil Gorsuch’s decision affirming the treaty between the Muscogee (Creek) and the United States that came during the Trail of Tears years. What is fascinating is that Gorsuch is a really terrible person…except that he is probably the best person on Native issues in the history of the Supreme Court. Sotomayor has long been a strong advocate as well. But Ginsburg for instance has traditionally been fairly bad on these issues and seems to be moving left now with Gorsuch and Sotomayor. But while one might expect this from Sotomayor, from Gorsuch is really quite amazing. A lot of people want to chalk this up to Gorsuch being from the West. For instance:
This decision is no surprise. Gorsuch, the Supreme Court’s only Westerner, is VERY good on tribal rights. https://t.co/IIRFBdomxK
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) July 9, 2020
I like Stern, but this is an absurd claim. It is the equivalent of saying that because a white man is from Alabama that he would of course be good on Black rights. I mean, if you’ve spent time in the West, especially areas with large Native populations, you know that….this is not the case. White racism in South Dakota and Arizona and Montana is every bit as vitriolic as in South Carolina and Mississippi and Louisiana. Or South Boston. So that doesn’t make any sense on the face of it. Others suggest this is about Gorsuch’s “textualism” and….I don’t know, maybe? But every conservative justice ever since originalism fetish started has used it whenever convenient for their politics and dropped it when not. There’s no obvious answers to this. Stern again uses this westerner gambit when talking to Dahlia Lithwick about the case, but even he is holding it up as a kind of guess because no one really knows. He’s always been strong on this though and the tribes were big supporters of his nomination because they knew his track record on their issues. Eventually, I think we will know more on what is making Gorsuch tick here, but whatever the reason, it’s a very real silver lining into what is by and large a horrible justice, if not quite as atrocious as Thomas and Alito.