Indian Child Welfare Act Struck Down
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was dealt a striking blow last week -- a federal judge in Texas ruled the landmark legislation unconstitutional. According to the law, when a Native child is up for adoption, family members, other tribal members, and then other Native homes are to be prioritized for placement. Research shows that children have better outcomes when they are raised with family, extended family, or in their community over state child welfare systems and foster homes. But the Republican appointee, Judge Reed O'Connor, ruled the ICWA is a race-based law lacking a present-day articulation of its need. Citing a recent Supreme Court ruling on sports gambling, O’Connor also ruled that the ICWA unfairly expected states and tribes to enforce federal standards. The Cherokee Nation and three other tribal defendants have stated they will seek an immediate stay of the ruling and appeal O’Connor’s decision to the Fifth Circuit. “The Department of the Interior strongly opposes any diminishment of ICWA’s protections for Indian children, families, and tribes,” said Tara MacLean Sweeney, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the agency. “The Department will continue to work with tribes and states to implement ICWA moving forward.” More here.