Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl: At the Intersection of Family Law, Indian Law, and Civil Rights
On June 15, 2013, the Supreme Court decided Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, its first case on the Indian Child Welfare Act in 24 years. The case raises conflicting visions of child welfare, race, adoption, fatherhood, and the status of Indian tribes. The 5-4 decision turns on divided views of the statute, with a controlling interpretation that may decimate the rights of birth fathers in ICWA cases and even the scope of ICWA itself. Conflicting amicus briefs from the National Council for Adoption (the trade group for private adoption agencies) and the 18 leading child welfare organizations in the country raise equally divided questions of the connection between the law and the best interests of children. Finally, with claims by the adoptive couple and their amici of race-matching and equal protection concerns, and claims by the birth father and Indian tribes of an adoption industry illegally preying on Indian children, perspectives on the role of race in adoptions and even the constitutional status of Indian tribes are placed in conflict as well. This panel explores these questions with scholars of federal Indian law, family law, constitutional law, and critical race theory.
Kathryn Fort (Michigan State University-College of Law)
Solangel Maldonado (Seton Hall Law School)
Gerald Torres (University of Texas Law School; Visiting Cornell Law School)
Bethany Berger (University of Connecticut School of Law)
Thanks to Bethany for sending this along.
Here are the materials in Warrior v. United States/Harvest Institute Freedmen Federation v. United States:
Here are the materials so far in Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation v. State of Utah (D. Utah):
News coverage here.
Here are the materials in Diné CARE v. EPA (N.D. Cal.):
Now before the Court are the parties’ cross motions for summary judgment. Plaintiffs Diné Care and National Parks Conservation Association (collectively “Plaintiffs”) move to have the Court issue an order requiring Defendant, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Lisa Jackson in her official capacity as administrator (collectively “EPA”), issue a final rule within one year that establishes Best Available Retrofit Technology for the Navajo Generating Station. The EPA and the intervenor-defendant Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District (“Intervenor”) each cross-move for summary judgment on the basis that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear Plaintiffs’ complaint under the Clean Air Act (“CAA”). Having considered the parties’ pleadings and the relevant legal authority, the Court hereby GRANTS the EPA’s and Intervenor’s motions for summary judgment. The Court finds that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction of this citizen suit and dismisses the action.
Lower court materials here.
Here is the complaint:
And a press release:
Nooksack 306 Deprived Of Christmas Support
Deming, WA – Today the Nooksack 306 were forced to file yet another Tribal Court lawsuit, after it became public that on December 3, the Nooksack Tribal Council Faction led by Chairman Bob Kelly voted via secret ”poll” to exclude the 306 families from $250 in Christmas support.
The families have asked the Nooksack Tribal Court to stop the Kelly Faction from excluding 306 families from the distribution, which they intend to make starting this Thursday, December 12.
“We are disgusted but not surprised that Bob Kelly and his followers would now deprive our families from Christmas support,” said Nooksack 306 family spokesperson Moreno Peralta. ”The holidays are a struggle for many of us, and they know that. This is just pure insult that is being added to the deep injury we’ve already suffered this year.”
Tribal member comments on the Tribe’s Facebook page confirm that Nooksack “families in need” could really use the Christmas monies.
The lawsuit alleges violation of the equal protection clauses in the Nooksack Constitution and federal Indian Civil Rights Act, as well as the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), which prevents tribes from distributing gaming revenues on a per capita basis without a federally-approved revenue allocation plan and/or in discriminatory fashion.
The Nooksack Tribe does not have any such revenue allocation plan. The resulting violations of IGRA could result in the National Indian Gaming Commission levying civil fines against the Tribe up to $25,000 per distribution and/or closing the Tribe’s two gaming facilities.
News coverage here.