US Supreme Court grants review of Indian Child Welfare Act cases
© WikiMedia (Joe Ravi)
US Supreme Court grants review of Indian Child Welfare Act cases

The US Supreme Court Monday agreed to hear Haaland v. Brackeen, a case dealing with challenges to the Indian Child Welfare Act.

The appeal will include arguments from four consolidated cases. Though the suits were originally brought by different parties, all take issue with the Indian Child Welfare Act. The law was passed in 1978 in an effort to protect the interests of Indian children and promote stability and security within Indian tribes and families. Specifically at issue in these cases is a placement-preference provision that gives Native American families priority in Native American children foster care and adoption proceedings.

The consolidated cases were initially brought by three states and seven individuals, three non-Native couples and the biological mother of an adopted Native American child. All of the cases were appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In reviewing the Indian Child Welfare Act, the appeals court held that Congress had the authority to enact the law and that it was constitutional. But the court held that some provisions of the act, including the placement-preference provision which places Native American children with Native adoptive families and foster homes, were unconstitutional.

In granting review, the Supreme Court will answer whether the placement-preference and record-keeping provisions violate the anti-commandeering doctrine of the Tenth Amendment. Additionally, the court will determine if the placement-preference provision relates to a legitimate governmental interest under the Equal Protection Clause.

Oral arguments are scheduled to take place during the court’s October 2022 term. Since the cases were consolidated, there will be one hour of oral argument.