By Acee Agoyo
With the lifetime of considered one of his personal within the palms of Donald Trump, Vice President Myron Lizer of the Navajo Nation addressed fellow Republicans on the second day of their celebration’s nominating conference.
Talking by way of video from the New Mexico portion of the reservation, Lizer made historical past as the first tribal chief with a prime-time slot on the Republican Nationwide Conference. He praised the Trump administration for its efforts in Indian Nation, pointing to the the current passage of the Coronavirus Support, Reduction and Financial Safety Act, also called the CARES Act, which put aside $eight billion for tribes to handle the impacts of COVID-19 of their communities.
“President Trump delivered the biggest monetary funding package deal ever to Indian Nation,” Lizer stated of a legislation that Congress wrote and despatched to the White Home because the pandemic took maintain in America in March.
“The $eight billion in CARES Act funding to Indian County was an amazing begin in assuaging the devastating results that the COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted on our Indian tribes,” Lizer added.
Vice President Myron Lizer of the Navajo Nation delivered his video handle to the Republican Nationwide Conference from Shiprock, on the New Mexico portion of the reservation. Picture: Navajo Nation Workplace of President and Vice President
And in a shot to the federal government’s historical past of damaged guarantees to tribes and their residents, Lizer stated: “The Navajo Nation as soon as led the nation in per capita constructive circumstances due to the well being disparities that earlier administrations failed to enhance.”
“Every time we meet with President Trump, he has at all times made it a precedence to restore the connection with our federal household,” Lizer asserted.
However the speech, which lasted a bit of beneath two and a half minutes, highlighted the restricted means of Lizer’s efforts to affect life-or-death choices made by Trump. On the identical day of the GOP handle, the president’s administration pressed ahead with the execution of Lezmond Mitchell, a Navajo man who’s the one Native American on federal demise row.
In doing so, the U.S. Division of Justice stated there was no want to handle whether or not the Navajo Nation’s sovereignty mattered. Lizer, in a letter to Trump, had the truth is argued that his individuals’s inherent rights to find out the destiny of their very own was being “marginalized.”
“We have to handle this challenge to maneuver ahead in our belief of our federal companions and to proceed to work on the significance of defending our Individuals,” Lizer wrote in a July 31 letter to Trump that was additionally signed by Navajo President Jonathan Nez.
Ahé’hee, Thanks Mr. President @realDonaldTrump for sharing my #RNC2020 video in your twitter account. As talked about, we welcome you to our Navajoland, as we look ahead to internet hosting you, to debate financial growth on alternative zones close to the Navajo Nation. https://t.co/Hrp6KgDzRS— Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer (@NNVP_Lizer) August 26, 2020
And in one other signal of Lizer’s lack of affect, Trump on Tuesday night time utilized the facility of his workplace to do for another person what he has to date declined to due for Mitchell. Throughout the RNC, the president introduced a pardon for Jon Ponder, who was convicted of robbing a bank not lengthy after the Navajo citizen was tried for 2 brutal deaths on the reservation.
“We believe that each person is made by God for a purpose,” Trump stated in a video filmed on the White Home. “I will continue to give all Americans, including former inmates, the best chance to build a new life and achieve their own American dream, and a great American dream it is.”
Mitchell’s convictions for the 2001 murders of 63-year-old Alyce Slim and her 9-year-old granddaughter have been upheld repeatedly by the federal courts. However he was not positioned on demise row for these horrific crimes — as a substitute, his capital punishment was linked to carjacking.
In taking that route, the George W. Bush administration averted having to hunt the Navajo Nation’s consent earlier than executing a tribal citizen. The part of federal legislation requiring tribal approval, or opt-in to the demise penalty, didn’t should be invoked.
“The federal authorities betrayed a promise when it sought the demise penalty in opposition to Lezmond Mitchell almost 20 years in the past,” former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold and former U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, wrote on Indianz.Com on Wednesday. “As we speak, it has the chance to make amends and hold that promise by halting his execution.”
“It prices little to halt the execution of Lezmond Mitchell, a end result that might each respect the sovereign dignity of a tribal nation and do the best factor for Mr. Mitchell,” Feingold and Harper added.
Lezmond has made further efforts to halt his execution. However on Tuesday night time, because the RNC was underway, his appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court docket had been denied, although Justice Sonia Sotomayor stated the Trump administration’s revival of the federal demise penalty warrants a better take a look at the long-dormant apply.
“I imagine that this courtroom ought to handle this challenge in an acceptable case,” Sotomayor wrote, stressing that Mitchell didn’t “adequately” current his questions as a part of his case.
Individually, Mitchell filed a brand new lawsuit on Tuesday, trying to stop his demise. However a federal decide on Wednesday morning refused to grant the momentary restraining order his authorized crew was in search of in opposition to the Trump administration.
“On the time Mr. Mitchell was sentenced, the federal government was not finishing up executions for federal prisoners sentenced to demise. However in late July 2019, for the primary time in over fifteen years, the Division of Justice introduced its plans to execute 5 federal inmates,” Decide Royce C. Lamberth, who presided over the landmark Indian belief fund lawsuit for many of its historical past, identified.
It was U.S. Legal professional Normal William Barr who resumed the federal demise penalty. He described Mitchell and 4 different federal inmates as “murderers, every of whom was convicted by a jury of his friends after a full and truthful continuing.”
“The Justice Division upholds the rule of legislation — and we owe it to the victims and their households to hold ahead the sentence imposed by our justice system,” Barr stated on the time in asserting Mitchell was going to be put to demise later in 2019.
Lezmond Charles Mitchell, age 38, has been the one Native American on federal demise row. He’s being held at a excessive safety U.S. penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, in response to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Mitchell gained a short lived reprieve when the ninth Circuit Court docket of Appeals put a maintain on his execution final October. He then argued that his trial was tainted by doable racial bias among the many jurors who heard his case.
The ninth Circuit upheld Mitchell’s demise sentence in an April 30 determination. A panel of three judges discovered no motive to reopen the case based mostly on a racial bias declare, although two members referred to as for a contemporary examination of the tribal sovereignty points at play.
“In my opinion, it’s worth pausing to contemplate why Mitchell faces the prospect of being the primary particular person to be executed by the federal authorities for an intra-Indian crime, dedicated in Indian nation, by advantage of a conviction for carjacking leading to demise,” Decide Morgan Christen wrote in a concurrence.
“When the sovereign nation upon whose territory the crime occurred opposes capital punishment of a tribal member whose victims had been additionally tribal members as a result of it conflicts with that nation’s ‘tradition and faith,’ a correct respect for tribal sovereignty requires that the federal authorities not solely pause earlier than in search of that sanction, however pause once more earlier than imposing it,” Decide Andrew D. Hurwitz wrote in his concurrence. “That’s notably true when imposition of the demise penalty would contravene the specific needs of a number of members of the victims’ household.”
PRESS RELEASE: Navajo Nation requires finish to Federal execution of tribal member, Lezmond Mitchell – https://t.co/Xw4XYhCbVb pic.twitter.com/uW3HER9eFr— 24th Navajo Nation Council (@NavajoCouncil) August 13, 2020
Mitchell’s petition to the Supreme Court docket to overturn the ninth Circuit, nevertheless, was denied with out touch upon Tuesday night time.
A separate software, the one about which Justice Sotomayor wrote, additionally was denied.
Because the Supreme Court docket push was underway, following the ninth Circuit’s refusal to rehear the case, Barr rescheduled Mitchell’s execution for August 26. He’s set to be put to demise on the U.S. penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.
With authorized appeals virtually fully exhausted, Mitchell’s final hope lies with Donald Trump. Barring a last-minute intervention, the Navajo man shall be put to demise at 6pm Japanese, shortly earlier than the Republican Get together opens the third night time of the conference. He could have died on the age of 38.
“I’m excited to endorse President Trump’s re-election,” Lizer stated on Tuesday night time. “And Mr. President, we look ahead to internet hosting you very quickly to return go to our land we name Dine’tah.”
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