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Supreme Court upholds law protecting Native American children in foster care

Supreme Court upholds law protecting Native American children in foster care

The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a federal law that gives preference to Native American families when it comes to adopting Native children in foster care. The decision was a victory for tribal sovereignty and the preservation of Native culture.

The law, known as the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), was enacted in 1978 to address the historical practice of removing Native children from their families and placing them with non-Native adoptive or foster parents. The law requires that state agencies and courts make efforts to keep Native children with their relatives or tribes, and to notify tribes when Native children are involved in custody proceedings.

The case before the Supreme Court involved a challenge to the law by a group of non-Native families who sought to adopt Native children. They argued that the law was unconstitutional because it discriminated based on race and violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. They also claimed that the law infringed on the rights of states to regulate child welfare.

The Supreme Court rejected these arguments in a 7-2 opinion written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh. He said that the law was not based on race, but on the political status of tribes as sovereign entities that have a unique relationship with the federal government. He also said that the law did not interfere with state authority, but rather established minimum federal standards for the protection of Native children.

“The ICWA protects the best interests of Indian children and promotes the stability and security of Indian tribes and families,” Kavanaugh wrote. “Congress enacted ICWA in 1978 because of ‘the consequences … of abusive child welfare practices that resulted in the separation of large numbers of Indian children from their families and tribes through adoption or foster care placement, usually in non-Indian homes.'”

The ruling was welcomed by Native American advocates and tribal leaders, who said it affirmed the importance of keeping Native children connected to their communities and cultures. They also said it recognized the inherent right of tribes to govern their own affairs and protect their own members.

“Today is a great day for all tribal nations and our citizens,” said Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians. “The Supreme Court’s decision today ends a years-long attack on one of the most important laws ever passed to protect Native children and families.”

“This decision today is monumental,” said Shannon Keller O’Loughlin, executive director of the Association on American Indian Affairs. “It means that our children will have an opportunity to be raised within our communities, by our people, according to our values.”

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