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Supreme Court upholds Indian Child Welfare Act


Oneida Nation Chairman Tehassi Tasi Hill and Vice-Chairman Brandon Yellowbird Stevens comment on the Supreme Court ruling regarding the Indian Child Welfare Act

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act Thursday morning.

By a 7-to-2 vote, the court rejected challenges to ICWA in a decision authored by Justice Barrett and joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Jackson.  The Court ruled Congress possesses broad authority to legislate regarding Indian affairs, and had authority to enact ICWA.  The Court also rejected the petitioners’ anti-commandeering claims.  Finally, the Court declined to address the petitioners’ Equal Protection and nondelegation doctrine claims, because it found none of the petitioners had standing to present those claims.

A statement from Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr., Morongo Band of Mission Indians Chairman Charles Martin, Oneida Nation Chairman Tehassi Hill and Quinault Indian Nation President Guy Capoeman can be read here:

“Today, the Supreme Court once again ruled that ICWA, heralded as the gold standard in child welfare for over 40 years, is constitutional. Today’s decision is a major victory for Native tribes, children, and the future of our culture and heritage. It is also a broad affirmation of the rule of law, and of the basic constitutional principles surrounding relationships between Congress and
tribal nations. We hope this decision will lay to rest the political attacks aimed at diminishing tribal sovereignty and creating instability throughout Indian law that have persisted for too long.

“The Court once again demonstrated that it understands the legitimacy of ICWA and what it means for tribes, families, and children. By ruling on the side of children’s health and safety, the
U.S. constitution, and centuries of precedent, the justices have landed on the right side of history. With these latest political attacks on ICWA now behind us, we hope we can move forward on focusing on what is best for our children.”

For more background and information on the Indian Child Welfare Act, visit the Native American Rights Fund here: