June 13 of this year marked a milestone in constitutional law. Fifty years earlier, in 1966, the Supreme Court decided Miranda v. Arizona, requiring officers to notify individuals in police custody of their “Miranda rights,” including their right to a court-appointed lawyer if unable to afford one.
In United States v. Bryant, this nation’s highest court condoned the use of prior “uncounseled” tribal court convictions to charge and convict an Indian as a federal habitual domestic violence offender.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote Bryant, denigrates Indian people’s civil rights, citing the need to protect Native women from domestic violence. But Department of Justice statistics show most domestic violence perpetrators in Indian country are non-Indians, and the Bryant decision leaves intact their constitutional rights, including the right to appointed counsel.
Barbara L. Creel & John LaVelle,
High Court Denies Rights of Natives,
Available at: https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/law_facultyscholarship/709