Indian Child Welfare Act Under Attack Again as Conservative Group Submits Appeal to Supreme Court

The conservative Goldwater Institute is attacking the Indian Child Welfare Act again.The group has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an ICWA case from California. The petition in Renteria v. Superior Court of California, Tulare County claims the 1978 law is based on “race” and should be deemed unconstitutional. Read the full article at the website.

Supreme Court Won’t Take up Race-Based Challenge to Indian Child Welfare Act

Without comment, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition in S.S. v. Colorado River Indian Tribes. The action, which came in an order list on Monday morning, lets stand a decision from Arizona, where opponents of ICWA tried to undermine the landmark law by claiming it is based on “race.” The Arizona Court of Appeals … Read more

Case petitioned to U.S. Supreme Court: R.P. v. LA County Department of Children and Family Services

R.P. v. LA County Department of Children and Family Services U.S. Supreme Court Briefs and Pleadings Docket No. 16-500 Question Presented: The questions presented are: (1) Whether ICWA applies where the child has not been removed from an Indian family or community. (2) Whether ICWA’s adoptive placement preferences, 25 U.S.C.1915(a), require removal from a foster … Read more

A Guide to the Supreme Court Decision in “Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl” (NICWA, AAIA)

The United States Supreme Court recently issued its opinion in the case of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. This document is designed to: Summarize the decision — what the case held about the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), what it did not hold, and what it implied. Provide advocates for tribes, birth parents (particularly unwed … Read more

Challenge to child’s adoption fails (Supreme Court, “Baby Veronica”)

The Supreme Court, over the dissents of two Justices, cleared the way Friday afternoon for a South Carolina couple to adopt the child known publicly as “Baby Veronica.”  In a three-sentence order, the full Court turned aside — without an explanation — the plea by the birth father to delay a state court ruling permitting … Read more

Latest News Coverage of Recent Supreme Court Decision in “Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl”

Supreme Court Thwarts ICWA Intent in Baby Veronica Case (Indian Country Today) 6/25/2013 US Supreme Court Case Reignites Discussion Over Welfare of American Indian Children (Washington Post) 6/26/2013 Happy Ruling for Adoptive Couple, Uncertainty for Baby Girl (NPR) 6/26/2013 The Court Got Baby Veronica Wrong ( 6/26/2013 Ruling on Adopted Indian Kids Threatens Tribes, Some … Read more

News Stories on the “Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl” Decision from the U.S. Supreme Court

A split decision on ‘Baby Veronica’ court battle (Tulsa World) 6/26/13. Supreme Court Strikes a Hard Blow to Tribal Sovereignty in Adoption Case (Common Dreams) 6/26/13. Supreme Court says Native American child doesn’t have to be given to biological father (Washington Post) 6/25/13. Justices Rule in Favor of Adoption of Indian Child (NY Times) 6/25/13. … Read more

U.S. Supreme Court Reverses and Remands Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl to S.C. Supreme Court

Find the opinion here. Commentary will be published soon on the blog. The syllabus from the ruling: “The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA), which establishes federal standards for state-court child custody proceedings involving Indian children, was enacted to address “the consequences . . . of abusive child welfare practices that [separated] Indian children … Read more

“Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl:” Two-and-a-Half Ways To Destroy Indian Law (Michigan Law Review)

The constitutionality of ICWA is based on two propositions: First, these special laws for Indians are not race based. And second, Congress has the authority to issue special laws with regard to Indian people and tribes. If the Baby Girl Court rejected either of these positions, not only would ICWA be unconstitutional, most of Indian … Read more

Continuing Media Coverage of “Baby Veronica” Case

High-Profile Custody Case New York Times  2013/04/26 To the Editor: Re (editorial, April 16): Your editorial about the case now before the United States Supreme Court says the child should be returned by the biological father, Dusten Brown, to her putat… Baby Veronica and the Law of Race Indian Country Today Media Network  2013/04/28 Upon reading my … Read more

April 23, 2013 Petition for Cert Filed in “Nebraska v. Elise M. ” (12-1278)

On April 23, 2013, petition for certiorari was filed with the Supreme Court for Nebraska v. Elise M., a Nebraska case that looks at: (1) Whether ICWA prohibits a state court from considering the ’best interests of the child”  when determining whether “good cause” exists to deny the transfer of an ongoing child welfare case. … Read more

Media Coverage of the Supreme Court Hearing in “Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl”

SCOTUS to rule in Baby Veronica case by midsummer Live 5 WCSC  2013/04/16 WASHINGTON, DC (WCSC)- After listening to an hour and a half of oral arguments, Supreme Court justices officially submitted Baby Veronica custody case hearing at the national level. Now it’s a waiting game … Adoption Case Brings Rare Family Law Dispute To Supreme … Read more

Due Diligence Radio Program about “Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl”

On The Voice of Russia, American Edition, radio station, the Due Diligence show interviewed three attorneys about the Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl case.  Interviews included: Phillip J. McCarthy, who represents the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and wrote an amicus brief supporting the adoptive couple, Lori Alvino McGill, a constitutional attorney for Latham & … Read more

Commentary on “Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl” in Michigan Law Review

The Michigan Law Review just published an opinion piece: Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl: Two-and-a-Half Ways To Destroy Indian Law. Article excerpt: “In December 2011, Judge Malphrus of the South Carolina family court ordered Matt and Melanie Capobianco to relinquish custody of Veronica, their two-year-old, adopted daughter, to her biological father, Dusten Brown. A federal … Read more

Supreme Court Transcript Now Available

A transcript for today’s oral argument in Adoptive Parents v. Baby Girl can be found here.  Audio recordings of oral arguments heard by the U.S. Supreme Court are made available to the public at the end of each argument week. If you are interested in learning more about the case or reading briefs that were … Read more

Politico Op-Ed from Echohawk, Pata, and Cross about “Adoptive Parents v. Baby Girl”

John Echohawk, Executive Director of the Native American Rights Fund; Jacqueline Pata, Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians; and Terry Cross, Executive Director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, have published an op-ed in Politico on Adoptive Parents v. Baby Girl, which was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court today.  To … Read more

April 15, 2013: Teleconference on ICWA Supreme Court Case

The Tribal Supreme Court Project – the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) – along with the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), will host a national teleconference and briefing to review the arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. During the call, participants … Read more

Casey Family Programs Press Release on “Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl”

Casey Family Programs releases a press release on Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl case before the U.S. Supreme Court: SEATTLE – Casey Family Programs with the support of 17 other national child welfare organizations has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).  The case … Read more

NARF, NCAI, and NICWA coordinate filing of amicus (friends of the court) briefs in “Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl”

Background: Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl is a case in which the South Carolina Supreme Court held that a Native American (Indian) child could not be adopted by non-Indian parents without complying with the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The court ordered the child returned to her biological father after she had … Read more

Court Documents for “Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl” (12-399)

The Tribal Supreme Court Project (a project of the Native American Rights Fund in partnership with the National Congress of American Indians) is providing copies of court documents for the Supreme Court case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl (12-399).   The page includes a link to the court’s docket sheet, lower court opinions and briefs, and … Read more

DOJ submits brief in support of Cherokee father in ICWA case (

As anticipated, the Department of Justice has filed an amicus brief in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, an Indian Child Welfare Act case that’s before the U.S. Supreme Court. The brief supports Dusten Brown, a member of the Cherokee Nation whose rights are at issue in the case. Government attorneys urged the Supreme Court to … Read more

Feb 13, 2013 Webinar: Understanding “Adoptive Parents v. Baby Girl”

Date: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 Time: 11 a.m. Pacific / 2 p.m. Eastern Presenter: Adrian Smith, JD, MSW, NICWA government affairs associate The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear the case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, a South Carolina adoption case involving the Indian Child Welfare Act. This high profile and emotionally charged case has garnered significant … Read more

Adoptive Parents vs. Tribal Rights (New York Times)

In response to the Supreme Court’s recent decision to hear Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, the New York Times recently featured this discussion of ICWA in its Room for Debate opinion pages. At : Should the adoption of American Indian children receive special consideration, or is it too focused on race? Kevin Noble Maillard, … Read more