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.