FILE – In this Nov. 5, 2020, file photo the Supreme Court is seen in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Texas v. Haaland, a case seeking to overturn the Indian Child Welfare Act.
The high court said Monday morning it would take the case reviewing the 1978 federal law. Many call the Indian Child Welfare Act a gold standard for child welfare policy.
A federal appeals court in April upheld the law and Congress’ authority to enact it. But the judges also found some of the law’s provisions unconstitutional, including preferences for placing Native American children with Native adoptive families and in Native foster homes.
“The far-reaching consequences of this case will be felt for generations,” stated the National Indian Child Welfare Association in a statement. “In a coordinated, well-financed, direct attack, Texas and other opponents aim to simultaneously exploit Native children and undermine tribal rights.”
ICWA has long been championed by tribal leaders to preserve Native families and cultures involving Native children, and it places reporting and other requirements on states.
“In keeping (Native children) connected to their extended family and cultural identity, the positive outcomes are far-reaching and include higher self-esteem and academic achievement. Further, they recognize that collaboration between sovereign Tribal Nations and state child welfare systems is effective and just governance,” the national organization stated.
The case will be argued during the court’s new term that begins in October.
Texas, Louisiana, Indiana and seven individuals had sued over provisions in the law, and a federal district court initially sided with the group and struck down much of the law. But in 2019, a three-judge federal appeals court panel voted 2-1 to reverse the district court and uphold the law. The full court then agreed to hear the case and struck some provisions.
— ICWA experts say state laws could protect Native families
— ‘This Land’ tackles attacks on ICWA
— Supreme Court appointment could re-position tribal law
— Biden administration brings changes to Indian Country
The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to review the case, arguing that the provisions should not have been struck.
Before the Indian Child Welfare Act was passed, between 25 percent and 35 percent of Native American children were being taken from their homes and placed with adoptive families, in foster care or in institutions. Most were placed with white families or in boarding schools in attempts to assimilate them.
This is a developing story. Watch “ICT’s Newscast with Aliyah Chavez” on Tuesday, March 1 at 5 p.m. EST for more.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Indian Country Today is a nonprofit news organization. Will you support our work? All of our content is free. There are no subscriptions or costs. And we have hired more Native journalists in the past year than any news organization ─ and with your help we will continue to grow and create career paths for our people. Support Indian Country Today for as little as $10. Sign up for ICT’s free newsletter.