March 25, 2016
Supreme Court denied petition.
This California case—which has become notorious as the “Lexi” case—involves the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law that dictates how courts decide foster care, adoption, and custody proceedings that involve children of American Indian ancestry. (The Goldwater Institute is challenging the constitutionality of the Act in a federal civil rights lawsuit, A.D. v. Washburn, also known as Carter v. Washburn, on behalf of children in Arizona who are subject to the Act.) The Lexi case involves a 6-year old girl who is 1/64th Choctaw by blood, and who has been taken from the California foster family with whom she has lived for four years, and placed with another family in Utah, thanks to the intervention of the Oklahoma-based Choctaw tribe.
The case highlights some of the Indian Child Welfare Act’s worst aspects—particularly the way the Act overrules the “best interests of the child” standard that applies in adoption proceedings involving children of all other races, and imposes a separate, substandard set of rules for cases that involve children of Indian heritage. The Act also allows tribes to intervene in lawsuits involving Indian children anywhere in the United States, and order them placed with people the tribe chooses. As a result, a child in California can be sent to Utah by a tribe headquartered in Oklahoma—and all based on a child’s racial ancestry. We are appearing as friends of the court to argue that the Act is unconstitutional.
Timothy Sandefur is the Vice President for Legal Affairs at the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation and holds the Duncan Chair in Constitutional Government. He litigates to promote economic liberty, private property rights, free speech, and other crucial values in states across the country. Timothy is the author of eight books, including most… Read more...
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