Law | National

Supreme Court takes first Indian Child Welfare Act case in years





The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, its first Indian Child Welfare Act case in more than two decades.

The case involves a non-Indian couple that tried to adopt a girl without the consent of her father, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. The tribe intervened and won a decision from the South Carolina Supreme Court last July.

The non-Indian couple appealed and although the decision doesn't appear to strike new ICWA ground, the Supreme Court justices accepted their petition in an order on Friday. A hearing is expected later this year in a case that has generated significant attention in the mainstream media.

"We are surprised that the United States Supreme Court has chosen to hear this case," Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree said in a press release. "The South Carolina Supreme Court completely addressed all aspects of the Indian Child Welfare Act, and we believe their decision was correct."

"This is a matter that is of utmost importance to all of Indian Country. Our children are our future, and the Cherokee Nation stands ready to defend the rights of Native American children to be raised in Native American homes," Hembree added.

The last time the Supreme Court decided an ICWA case was Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield in 1989. The court determined that the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians had jurisdiction in an adoption dispute.

Get the Story:
High court to tackle Native American adoption dispute (CNN 1/5)
Supreme Court to hear adoption case involving Indian Child Welfare Act (The Tulsa World 1/5)
Supreme Court to examine Indian Child Welfare Act requirements in adoption dispute (The Washington Post 1/5)
Justices Take Case on Adoption of Indian Child (The New York Times 1/5)
Supreme Court to review Native American child custody case (AP 1/4)

An Opinion:
Diana Reese: Baby Veronica: White or Native American? Which parents have the right to raise her? (The Washington Post 1/5)

South Carolina Supreme Court Decision:
Adoptive Couple v. Cherokee Nation (July 26, 2012)

Related Stories:
Supreme Court considers petition in Cherokee Nation ICWA case (1/4)
Couple asks Supreme Court to hear ICWA case for Cherokee girl (10/3)
Cover Story: Non-Indian couple not giving up on ICWA dispute (9/26)
Column: Lawyer switches sides for Indian Child Welfare Act case (09/05)
Court won't rehear ICWA case involving Cherokee Nation father (8/30)
Opinion: ICWA punishes child returned to her Cherokee father (8/28)
Opinion: Media slanted against ICWA in South Carolina case (8/23)
Couple wants rehearing in ICWA case of Cherokee Nation girl (8/14)
Court supports return of child to Cherokee father under ICWA (7/26)
Terry Cross: Compliance with Indian Child Welfare Act needed (7/25)
New group lobbies Congress to change Indian Child Welfare Act (7/11)
Couple in ICWA case says Cherokee child is more 'Latino' (04/19)
South Carolina court hears ICWA case for Cherokee child (4/17)
Former Sen. Abourezk clarifies comment about ICWA case (01/24)
South Carolina Supreme Court pushed to take up ICWA case (01/18)
Cherokee Nation seeks gag order in ICWA dispute making news (1/5)
Cherokee Nation man wins custody of daughter in ICWA case (1/3)