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News Release


A bipartisan, bicameral group of 87 members of Congress, as well as Republican and Democratic state attorneys general, nearly 500 tribes, child welfare organizations, legal experts, adoptive parents, and other interest groups have filed amicus briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). On November 9, the court will hear arguments in Brackeen v. Haaland on the future of the law.

Earlier in August, the defendant tribal nations of the Cherokee Nation, Oneida Nation, Quinault Indian Nation, Morongo Band of Mission Indians and Navajo Nation also filed a brief that demonstrates how the law adheres to the Constitution and the principles of tribal citizenship dating back to America's founding.

Referred to as the “gold standard” of child welfare policy by leading child advocacy groups, ICWA has consistently received broad, bipartisan support since it was first passed.

Organizations filing briefs in support of ICWA include:

Government Organizations

Nearly 500 tribes, over 60 tribal organizations, 87 different members of Congress, 23 states, and a county with the largest child welfare system in the country filed amicus briefs that defend ICWA’s ability to encourage tribal-state and tribal-federal relations, as well as emphasize ICWA’s effectiveness in practice in state contexts. (NARF’s Tribal Government and Organizations Brief, Congressional Briefs, State AG Brief, LA County Brief)

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Child Welfare Organizations and Adoptive Parents

Adoptive parents, parent attorneys, and child welfare organizations, including Casey Family Programs and 26 other Child Welfare and Adoption organizations filed briefs defending ICWA’s promotion and support of best child welfare practices. The American Bar Association and National Association of Counsel for Children and 30 Other Children's Rights Organizations submitted briefs defending the constitutional rights of families, and address how ICWA supports the best interest of children in state proceedings. Native youth were also given the opportunity to tell their lived experience directly to the court through the Former Foster Children Brief. (Bradshaw Brief, Non-Native Adoptive Parents, Family Defenders, American Bar Association, Casey Family Programs and 26 Other Child Welfare and Adoption Organizations, National Association of Counsel for Children and 30 Other Children's Rights Organizations, Former Foster Children, Non-Native Adoptive Parents)

Legal Voices

Leading legal voices defend the constitutionality of ICWA and the power of Congress to legislate on Indian law. (Ablavsky Brief, Administrative and Constitutional Law Professors, Indian Law Professors, American Historical Association)

Medical Organizations

Medical organizations explain how ICWA combats the physical and emotional trauma of policies designed to destroy tribal families, and the benefits to children of remaining with their families and communities. (American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association and the Society of Indian Psychologists)

Interest Groups

Interest groups like the ACLU, Constitutional Accountability Center, and Nation Indigenous Women’s Resource Center filed briefs taking on challenges to ICWA as a race-based law, and the ramifications to native people if “Indian” is legally considered a racial classification. (ACLU, Constitutional Accountability Center, National Indigenous Women's Resource Center, Sen. Abourezk/Lakota People's Law Project)

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