Cherokee Nation to Appeal Decision on Native American Adoptions
The Cherokee Nation plans to appeal a decision last week that struck down the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) -- a law governing the adoptions of Native American children. Beat DC readers will recall that the law, which was meant to keep the children within Native American families, was deemed unconstitutional last week by a federal judge in Texas. U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor found that the law illegally gives Native American families preferential treatment in adoption proceedings for Native American children based on race. The decision has shocked Native American advocates who have relied upon the law to help promote stability and keep Native American families and tribes together. For now, the decision only sets a binding precedent in the Northern District of Texas. But if the tribe loses an appeal at the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, it could push the case to the Supreme Court, giving the justices a chance to strike down ICWA nationwide. "This is the only federal court that has ever found ICWA to be unconstitutional on its face or as applied. No Circuit or Supreme Court opinions over the past 40 years have found any provision of ICWA to be unconstitutional even though these arguments have been raised, including in the Supreme Court. We strongly believe that in the end, ICWA will be affirmed and reinforced," said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. More here.