Article VIIVIII. Judicial
Section 1. The Judicial powers of the Cherokee Nation shall be vested in a Supreme Court and such lower courts as the Council shall from time-to-time ordain and establish. The Judicial Appeals Tribunal shall become known as the Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation. The Supreme Court shall be composed of five (5) members all of whom must be citizens of the Cherokee Nation and be admitted to practice law before the highest Court of aany state of the United States.
Section 2. Justices of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the Principal Chief and confirmed by the Council to serve terms of ten (10) years each after expiration of the initial terms as follows: Seat 1: endending 12/31/2000, Seat 2: endending 12/31/2002, Seat 3: endending 12/31/2004, Seat 4: endending 12/31/2006, Seat 5: endending 12/31/2008. An appointment to the Supreme Court shall take place once every two (2) years, except in the case of filling a vacated seat on the courtCourt for the remainder of that term. The Council shall, within six (6) months of this Constitution taking effect, pass such laws as are necessary for carrying into effect the provisions of this section.
Section 3. Judges of the District Court shall be citizens of the Cherokee Nation, and shall be admitted to practice law before the highest Court of aany state of the United States, and shall be appointed by the Principal Chief to beand confirmed by the Council and shallto serve terms of four (4) years each. In the event of a judicial vacancy due to death, resignation, or removal from said office, any successor duly appointed and confirmed shall only serve the balance of the term of the vacancy they arebeing filling.
Section 4. The original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court shall extend to a general supervisory control over all lower courts. This right ofGeneral supervisory control does not include the rights of suspension, removal, or discplinary action of any judgemember of the Supreme Court or lower courtsjudiciary. These rightspowers are specifically reserved for the Court on the Judiciary as prescribed in Section 5a5 and/or Article X removal rightsXI.
The Supreme Court shall employ an administrator, who shall have general administrative duties in the Judicial Branchjudicial branch. The Justices of the Supreme Court shall have supervisory authority over the administrator.
The original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court shall extend to all civil cases wherein the Cherokee Nation or an officer thereof acting in official capacity, is named as a party defendant, and to all other cases and controversies as the Council may prescribe by law.
In support of its original and appellate jurisdiction, the Supreme Court shall have power to issue, hear and determine writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, quo warranto, certiorari, prohibition and such other remedial writs as may be provided by law and may exercise such other jurisdiction as may be conferred by statute. The appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court shall extend to all cases at law and in equity arising under the laws or constitutionConstitution of the Cherokee Nation.
The Supreme Court shall promulgate rules of procedure relating to its original and appellate jurisdiction to insure any litigant appearing before it receives due process of law and impartial justice, together with prompt and speedy relief. Decisions of the Supreme Court shall be published and indexed and shall be final insofar as the judicial process of the Cherokee Nation is concerned.
Section 5a5. There is hereby created a Court on the Judiciary. Each branch of the government shall select two members of the Court; one of whom shall be a member of the Cherokee Nation Bar Association and the other one shall be a non-lawyer. The six members shall appoint a seventh member. The members of the Court on the Judiciary shall promulgate its own rules of procedure, assuring due process, to be submitted to the Council for review and approval. The authority of the Court shall include suspension, sanction, discipline or recommendation of removal. The members shall not be employed byemployees of the Cherokee Nation or any entities thereof. The Council shall pass such laws as are necessary for carrying into effect the provisions of this section. All members of the Court shall be citizens of the Cherokee Nation.
Section 56. The District courtsCourts of the Cherokee Nation shall be courts of general jurisdiction and shall be vested with original jurisdiction, not otherwise reserved to the Supreme Court, to hear and resolve disputes arising under the laws or constitutionConstitution of the Cherokee Nation in both law and equity, whether criminal or civil in nature. The Council shall enact, with advice from the judiciary, rules of procedure which shall insure that all litigants receive due process of law and impartial justice, together with prompt and speedy relief.
Section 67. The Justices of the Supreme Court and Judges of the District Court shall receive a compensation which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office, but shall receive no other fee, gratuity or perquisite of office, nor hold any other position of title, trust or profit within the Cherokee Nation or any entity thereof, either directly or indirectly.
Section 78. All judicial officers Members of the judiciary shall be subject to removal from office only for willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, habitual drunkenness, incompetency or any conviction of a felony, a crime under the laws of the Cherokee Nation that if committed in some other jurisdiction would be a felony, or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or offenses against the Cherokee Nation committed while in office.
Article VIIIIX. Election
Section 1. There is hereby created a Cherokee Nation Election Commission. The commissionCommission shall be an autonomous and permanent entity charged with the administration of all Cherokee Nation elections, in accordance with election laws.
The Council shall enact an appropriate law not inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution that will govern the conduct of all elections.
Section 2. Any citizen by blood of the Cherokee Nation at least twenty-five (25) years of age on that date of the election may be a candidate for the Council. Section 2 No person who shall have been convicted of a felony charge under the laws of United States of America, or of any State, Territory, or Possession thereof, or a crime under the laws of the Cherokee Nation that if committed in some other jurisdiction would be a felony, shall be eligible to hold any office or appointment of honor, profit or trust within this Nation unless such person has received a pardon from the appropriate jurisdiction. Any person who holds any office of honor, profit or trust in any other tribe or Nation of American Indians, either elective or appointive shall be ineligible to hold simultaneously any office of honor, profit or trust of the Cherokee Nation unless approved by the Council.
Section 3. All elections shall be determined by secret balloting.
Article IXX. Fiscal
Section 1. The fiscal year shall commence on the first day of October in each year, unless otherwise provided by law.
Section 2. The Council shall provide by law for annual expenditure of funds, and the source from which funds are to be derived, to defray the estimated expenses of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches and Departmentsthe departments of Governmentgovernment of the Cherokee Nation for each fiscal year. The budget shall not exceed estimated revenues.
Section 3. At least forty-five (45) days prior to the beginning of each fiscal year, the Treasurer shall cause to be made and presented to the Council an itemized estimate of revenues and expenditures for the ensuing fiscal year withadhering to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).
Section 4. The Council shall require that records be maintained and be provided to the Council of all funds, monies, accounts and indebtedness and all other accounts bearing upon the fiscal interests, including but not limited to, any and all outside business interests, both for profitfor-profit and not for profitnot-for-profit, of the Cherokee Nation by the use of an accounting system adhering to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). The annual financial statementsstatement shall be audited by a Certified Public Accountant and presented to the Council within six months following the end of each fiscal year. Unaudited reports will be submitted as required by the Council.
Section 5. The Treasurer shall be authorized to accept all grants, donations of money, interest of funds of the Cherokee Nation, judgments and any and all other sources of monies available to the Cherokee Nation, for uses and purposes and upon the conditions and limitations for which the same are granted or donated; and the. The faith of the Cherokee Nation is hereby pledged to preserve such grants and donations as a sacred trust, and, if or when designated, to keep the same for the use and purposes for which they were granted or donated.
Section 6. The Council shall authorize the Treasurer to invest funds or money of the Cherokee Nation and determine the preference to be given to the security for such investments, the manner of selecting the securities, prescribing the rules, regulations, restrictions and conditions upon which the funds shall be loaned or invested, provided that no investment shall be in mortgages other than first mortgages only, and do all things necessary for the safety of the funds and permanence of the investments. If required by law, such investments would be subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior.
Section 7. The credit of the Cherokee Nation shall not be given, pledged, or loaned to any individual, firm, company, corporation, or association without the approval of the Council. The Cherokee Nation shall not make any donations by gift, bonus, or otherwise, to any individual, firm, company, corporation, or association without the approval of the Council.
Section 8. All laws authorizing the expenditures of money by and on behalf of the Cherokee Nation shall specify the purpose for which the money is to be used, and the money so designated shall be used for no other purpose. No monies or resources of the Cherokee Nation or any of its entities shall be used to pay for representation of a defendant in a criminal matter, except where a public defender is authorized under Cherokee Nation law. Annual expenditures shall not exceed the available funds.
Section 9. General laws shall be enacted by the Council providing for the deposit of funds of the Cherokee Nation, and the depository thereof, and such funds shall be under the control of the Treasurer, under such terms and conditions as shall be designated by saidthe Council and under such laws which shall provide for the protection of said funds.
Section 10. No official, member or officer of the Council, Cabinet Member, employee of any official, Council, Cabinet, or subdivisions thereof, or any person employed in any capacity by the Cherokee Nation shall receive from any individual, partnership, corporation, or entity doing business with the Cherokee Nation directly or indirectly, any interest, profit, benefits or gratuity, other than wages, salary, per diem, or expenses specifically provided by law.
Section 11. All officers, elected or appointed, who are authorized by this Constitution or any subsequent legislation to a position of trust over any land, property, accounts or monies, shall execute an official surety bond in the amount as may be required by the Council, and such. Such surety bonds shall inure to the benefit of, and be paid for by, the Cherokee Nation for whose protection or surety the same shall be required and in. In no event shall said surety bond be other than by a Licensed Insurance Company, authorized to do business in the State of Oklahoma.
Article XXI. Removal From Office
Section 1. The Principal Chief, Deputy Principal Chief, members of the Council, Attorney General and Marshal shall be subject to removal from office for willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, habitual drunkenness, incompetency or any conviction of a felony, or a crime under the laws of the Cherokee Nation that if committed in some other jurisdiction would be a felony, or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or offenses against the Cherokee Nation committed while in office.
Section 2. Except as otherwise provided in this Constitution, all other appointed officials shall be subject to removal for cause, as prescribed by law.
Section 3. No official may be removed under Sections 1 or 2 of this Article or Section 78 of Article VIIVIII except after trial before the Council, with the accused having been afforded due process and opportunity to be heard. Provided, removal under Sections 1 or 2 of this Article or Section 78 of Article VIIVIII shall require a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the members of the Council.
Section 4. Separate from the Council's removal powers, the peoplePeople of the Cherokee Nation reserve unto themselves the exclusive power to recall any elected official through petition and recall referendum. A petition must be signed by Cherokee citizens registered to vote. In the case of Principal Chief or Deputy Principal Chief, signatures must total a number equaling or exceeding fifteen percent (15%) of the total number of registered voters in the previous general election. In the case of district offices, signatures must total the greater of five hundred (500) or twenty-five percent (25%) of the total number of registered voters in that district in the previous general election. The signed petition shall be filed with the Election Commission to determine whether the signatures are valid. Said determination shall be made within thirty (30) days after the filing of same. Upon verification of the requisite number of signatures the Election Commission shall certify the petition as valid and notify the Council and the Secretary of State. Upon notification of a valid certified petition the Council shall immediately call for and approve a special recall election for the office in question within sixty (60) days. The special recall election shall be limited in scope to the voting populous for the elected office in question. Votes casts shall be tabulated and the results certified in the same manner as in general elections. A majority vote to affirm the official shall retain the official in office. A majority vote to recall shall immediately remove the official from office. In the event of a tie-vote the Council shall call a special meeting to conduct a tie-breaking vote. Elected offices vacated under this section shall be filled as otherwise provided in this Constitution.
Article XIXII. Employee Rights
No employee, who having served in a position at least one (1) year, shall be removed from the employment of the Cherokee Nation except for cause, and only after being afforded pre-termination due process. Provided, the right of such an employee to seek redress in the Cherokee Nation courts shall not be abridged.
Article XIIXIII. Oath
Section 1. All officers elected or appointed shall, before entering upon the duties of their respective offices, take and subscribe to the following oath or affirmation: "I do solemnly swear, or affirm, that I will faithfully execute the duties of ____________ ____________________ of the Cherokee Nation, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitutions of the Cherokee Nation, and the United States of America. I swear or affirm further, that I will do everything within my power to promote the culture, heritage and traditions of the Cherokee Nation."
Section 2. The foregoing oath shall be administered by any person authorized by the Council to administer oaths. The oath shall be filed in the Office of the Secretary of State.
Article XIIIXIV. Clans
Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit the right of any Cherokee to belong to a recognized clan or organization in the Cherokee Nation.
Article XIVXV. Initiative, Referendum and Amendment
Section 1. Notwithstanding the provisions of Article VVI, the peoplePeople of the Cherokee Nation reserve to themselves the power to propose laws and amendments to this Constitution and to enact or reject the same at the polls independent of the Council, and also reserve power at their own option to approve or reject at the polls any act of the Council.
Section 2. Any amendment or amendments to this Constitution may be proposed by the Council, and if the same shall be agreed to by a majority of all the members of the Council, such proposed amendment or amendments shall, with the yeas and nays thereon, be entered into the Journal and referred by the Secretary of State to the peoplePeople for their approval or rejection, at the next regular general election, except when the Council, by a two-thirds (2/3) vote, shall order a special election for that purpose. If a majority of all the registered voters voting at such election shall vote in favor of any amendment thereto, it shall thereby become a part of this Constitution.
Section 3. The first power reserved by the peoplePeople of the Cherokee Nation is the initiative, and ten percent (10%) of the registered voters shall have the right to propose any legislative measures by petition and fifteen percent (15%) of the registered voters shall have the right to propose amendments to the Constitution by petition, and every such petition shall include the full text of the measure so proposed.
The second power is the referendum, and it may be ordered (except as to laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety), either by petition signed by five percent (5%) of the registered voters or by the Council as other enactments are effectuated. The ratio and percent of registered voters hereinbefore stated shall be based upon the total number of votes cast atin the last general election involving the office of Principal Chief.
Section 4. Referendum petitions shall be filed with the Secretary of State not more than ninety (90) days after the final adjournment of the session or meeting of the Council which passed the bill on which the referendum is demanded. The veto power of the Principal Chief shall not extend to measures voted on by the peoplePeople. All elections on measures referred to the peoplePeople of the Cherokee Nation shall be had at the next regular general election except when the Council or the Principal Chief shall order a special election for the express purpose of making such reference. Any measure referred to the peoplePeople by the initiative shall take effect and be in force when it shall have been approved by a majority of the votes cast thereon.
Section 5. Petitions and orders for the initiative and for the referendum shall be filed with the Secretary of State and addressed to the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, who shall submit the same to the peoplePeople. The Council shall make suitable provisions for carrying into effect the provisions of this Article.
Section 6. The referendum may be demanded by the peoplePeople against one or more items, sections or parts of any enactment of the Council in the same manner in which such power may be exercised against a complete enactment. The filing of a referendum petition against one or more items, sections or parts of an enactment shall not delay the remainder of such act from becoming operative.
Section 7. If two or more amendments are proposed they shall be submitted in such manner that electorsregistered voters may vote for or against them separately.
Section 8. No proposal for the amendment of this Constitution
which is submitted to the voters shall embrace more than one general subject and the voters shall vote separately for or against each proposal submitted; provided, however, that in the submission of proposals for the amendment of this Constitution by articles, which embrace a general subject, each proposed article shall be deemed a single proposal or proposition.
Section 9. No convention shall be called by the Council to propose a new Constitution, unless the law providing for such convention shall first be approved by the peoplePeople on a referendum vote at a regular or special election. Any amendments, alterations, revisions or new Constitution, proposed by such convention, shall be submitted to the registered voters of the Cherokee Nation at a general or special election and be approved by a majority of the registered voters voting thereon before the same shall become effective. The question of such proposed convention shall be submitted to the citizens of the Cherokee Nation at least once in every twenty (20) years.
Article XVXVI. Supersedes Constitutions of 1839 and 1976
The provisions of this Constitution overrule, supersede, and repeal the provisions of the Cherokee Nation Constitution enacted the 6th day of September, 1839, and the provisions of the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma enacted the 26th day of June, 1976.
Article XVIXVII. Seat of Government
The Seat of Government of the Cherokee Nation shall be at Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Article XVIIXVIII. Adoption
This Constitution shall become effective when ratified by the registered voters of the Cherokee Nation. It shall be engrossed on parchment and signed by the Principal Chief and the Secretary of the Interior. It shall be filed in the office of the Cherokee Nation and sacredly preserved as the fundamental law of the Cherokee Nation. The Constitution shall be printed in both Cherokee and English, provided however, that the English version shall be controlling for all governmental and legal purposes. The Council shall enact laws in conformance with this Constitution within eighteen (18) months of its ratification, provided that the provisions for Article XXI shall be enacted within six (6) months of its ratification.