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Supreme Court declines petition in Indian Child Welfare Act case

Filed Under: Law | National
More on: choctaw, icwa, supreme court
     
   

A message to the conservative Goldwater Institute, which is challenging the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act. Photo: Defend ICWA

Tribes can breath a sigh of relief now that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a high-profile Indian Child Welfare Act case.

Without comment, the justices on Monday declined a petition in R.P. v. LA County Department of Children and Family Services. That means a Choctaw Nation girl will remain with her relatives instead of being displaced by a non-Indian foster couple.

"The only reason there was a media-fueled tragedy is because counsel for the foster family pointed at the act and the Choctaw Nation to incite race-based animosity when the facts and the law were not in their favor," professor Matthew L.M. Fletcher wrote in a letter to the American Bar Association Journal in response to what he said was a biased article about the dispute.

The last ICWA dispute that went before the high court was Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. By a 5-4 vote in June 2013, the justices forced a Cherokee Nation citizen to give up his daughter to a non-Indian couple.

Tribes and their advocates were worried about a repeat of the situation because the attorney who represents the couple in R.P. also represented the non-Indian mother in Adoptive Couple. Conservative organizations are also attempting to weaken ICWA through the courts and by influencing public opinion about the law.

Congress passed ICWA in 1978 to prevent Indian children from being taken from their families and their communities. Despite the law's mandate, a number of states and adoption agencies continue to face compliance problems.

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Matthew Fletcher: The Supreme Court and Indian Child Welfare Act (08/24)
Training sessions planned for final Indian Child Welfare Act rule (07/22)
California remains a battleground for Indian Child Welfare Act (07/21)
Delphine Red Shirt: Our children need to be kept close to home (07/21)
Court won't disturb placement of Choctaw Nation girl in ICWA dispute (07/11)
Anti-Indian Child Welfare Act attorney continues to question law (06/10)
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California court won't upset placement of Choctaw Nation child (03/31)
Conservative website urges readers to contact Choctaw Nation (03/24)
Anti-Indian Child Welfare Act lawyer pursues appeal in California (03/23)
Anti-Indian Child Welfare Act attorney takes on another dispute (03/22)
Court in California won't let Choctaw girl be placed with relatives (8/19)

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