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Justice Scalia Calls Indian Adoption Case his Toughest Decision

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Justice Antonin Scalia told Charlie Rose in a TV interview that an Indian adoption case in 1989 has been the most challenging decision he has made in his more than two decades serving on the Supreme Court, The New York TImes reported.

“It was pretty early on in my time on this court,” he said. “We had a case in which a very wealthy rancher and his wife had adopted a child of a young man and woman on an Indian reservation who had had the child out of wedlock. And they gave the child to the rancher to raise.”

The case actually involved 3-year-old twins, and the adoptive father had passed away by the time the case was decided.

“I found that very hard. But that’s what the law said, without a doubt,” Justice Scalia said, refering to the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. The federal act protects American Indian children from being separated from their family, tribe and culture. It was passed to prevent the outrageously high, widespread removal of Indian children from their homes.

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Now the Supreme Court may be faced with a similar decision. At a private Supreme Court conference next week, the justices will consider whether to hear the Baby Veronica case.

On July 26, 2012, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled Baby Veronica, a 2-year-old Cherokee adopted by non-Native parents in 2009, will remain with her biological father, Dusten Brown, a member of the Cherokee Nation, in Oklahoma. The adoptive parents Matt and Melanie Capobianco from South Carolina have since appealed for a rehearing, which was denied by the South Carolina Supreme Court on August 23. Now the federal Supreme Court will decide whether to hear their case.