It is very rare that a family law case reaches the Supreme Court. However, on Tuesday, emotions boiled over at the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices heard arguments in a case testing the meaning and reach of the Indian Child Welfare Act, known as ICWAA. This is a case that touches on the already complex process of adoption and the United States’ embarrassing history of taking away Native American children from their family – this is no typical family law case.
According to the Huffington Post, the case involves a South Carolina couple fighting for custody of their adopted daughter who, after a court battle, was returned to her biological father in Oklahoma.
At issue is the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law that gives tribes and relatives a say in decisions affecting children with Native American heritage. Passed in 1978 because of the high number of Indian children being removed from their homes by public and private agencies, the act gives the tribe and relatives a say in decisions affecting the child. In the current case, to be heard Tuesday, more than a dozen states and 23 current and former members of Congress have filed briefs supporting the law.