Supreme Court Upholds Indian Child Welfare Act

by | Jun 15, 2023 | Courts, Supreme Court

Today the Supreme Court delivered a substantial win for indigenous and native tribes by upholding the Indian Child Welfare Act. In their ruling (known as Haaland v. Brackeen), the Justices also went against the state of Texas, which was challenging the Act.

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was passed in 1978 after decades of native children being removed from their families. If a native child was removed from their family, the ICWA stipulated that relatives or the members of the tribe should be notified.

In 2016 the Brackeen family of Fort Worth began fostering a child that was part Navajo and Cherokee.  A judge in Texas ruled that the boy should be placed with a Navajo family in New Mexico the following year. The Brackeen family did end up adopting the boy, but after their court battle they decided to file a lawsuit challenging the merits of the ICWA.

That case moved through the court system before being heard by the Supreme Court last October. Attorney General Ken Paxton (who has since been impeached), called the ICWA “unconstitutional and discriminatory.”

Judge Amy Coney Barrett delivered the 7-2 opinion, affirming the constitutionality of the ICWA. Justices Thomas and Alito dissented.

Photo courtesy of Mathieu Landretti

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