Federal Judge Dismisses Anti-ICWA Suit

On Thursday a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia dismissed a suit challenging both the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act and the new federal guidelines that were implemented last February by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, citing a lack of subject matter jurisdiction and standing in the case.

Read the full article at the Indian Country Today Media Network website.

Dinwiddie Dep’t of Social Services v. Nunnally, October 31, 2014 (Virginia)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Department of Social Services (DSS) filed petitions for foster care plans with the goal of adoption and to terminate parental rights of father and Indian mother. Indian tribe filed a motion to intervene and filed a motion to transfer jurisdiction to tribal court under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, Dinwiddie County, denied the petitions to terminate parental rights. The DDSS and the guardian ad litem appointed to represent the children appealed. The Circuit Court, Dinwiddie County, found that good cause existed not to transfer the proceeding to tribal court and terminated mother’s and father’s parental rights, and parents appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the trial court on the motion to transfer, vacated the order terminating the parental rights of the mother and father, and remanded, and appeal was taken.

Holding provided by Westlaw: The Supreme Court held that case would be remanded to determine whether to transfer termination action involving Indian child to tribal court in light of Thompson, which rejected “best interests of child test” in favor of the more limited test involving an immediate serious emotional or physical harm.

Read the full decision at the National Indian Law Library website.

A Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act

A Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare ActThe Guide is intended to answer questions and provide a comprehensive resource of information on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The online version at was created as a complement to the print version of the Guide, which was printed by the Native American Rights Fund in 2007.

While the topical sections are identical to the print version, the electronic copy has links to thousands of state and federal resources (cases, laws, etc.). In addition to the materials available in the original 360 page print edition, the online version includes more recent cases and a short list of recent ICWA news.