SCOTUS Upholds Native American Adoption Law

SCOTUS Upholds Native American Adoption Law

In a 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court of the United States rejected non-Indigenous parents' and the state of Texas's challenges to the Indian Child Welfare Act.

In so doing, the court upheld established law that prioritises Native American families in adoption or foster care of Native American children, throwing out claims that the law constitutes a form of racial discrimination. In briefs submitted to the Supreme Court, hundreds of tribes argued that the ICWA acted in children’s best interests, and that the law treats Native Americans as a political class rather than a racial group.

The ICWA was enacted in 1978, prompted by studies indicating that 85% of Native children who were removed from their homes were fostered outside of the Native community. Among other child protection measures for Native children, he ICWA gives preference to members of the child’s family or tribe, or other Native families, over non-Natives and non-relatives.

A number of tribal leaders issued a joint statement hailing the decision. “We hope this decision will lay to rest the political attacks aimed at diminishing tribal sovereignty and creating instability throughout Indian law that have persisted for too long,” they said.

“By ruling on the side of children’s health and safety, the US constitution, and centuries of precedent, the justices have landed on the right side of history.”

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