Frequently Searched

Pursuing Equal Protection for Native American Children

In re. C.J. Jr.

Case Status

Date Filed

October 31, 2017

Last Step

VICTORY! Ohio courts rule that C.J. can stay with his family!

Next Step

Case closed.

Case Overview

This Indian Child Welfare Act case involves a five-year-old child born in Ohio, who has lived with an Ohio foster family for virtually his whole life. His birth parents also live in Ohio. Yet in 2016, the Gila River Indian Community’s tribal court issued an order commanding the state to send C.J. Jr. away from his foster parents to live with a family he has never met, on an Arizona Indian reservation he has never even visited—simply because they share the same ethnicity.

This is just one of many examples of the racial segregation that ICWA often imposes. Solely as a result of the DNA in his blood, Ohio courts are being asked to relinquish their responsibility to protect the best interests of this Ohio child and to disregard what matters to him, in order to ensure that he does not live with adults of a different race. But C.J. Jr., like all Indian children, is a citizen of the United States, entitled to the same strong protections that his white, black, Asian, or Hispanic playmates enjoy.

We represent the “guardian ad litem”—the state-appointed attorney charged with defending the child’s best interests. We argue that courts should not compromise those interests on account of the color of his skin.

[Update: September 2020] In 2020, an Ohio trial court ruled that C.J. may remain with his Ohio family. Court orders prohibit us from posting the text of the court’s decision. The case number is Franklin County Court of Common Pleas No. 15JU-232.

Donate Now

Help all Americans live freer, happier lives. Join the Goldwater Institute as we defend and strengthen freedom in all 50 states.

Donate Now

Since 1988, the Goldwater Institute has been in the liberty business — defending and promoting freedom, and achieving more than 400 victories in all 50 states. Donate today to help support our mission.

We Protect Your Rights

Our attorneys defend individual rights and protect those who cannot protect themselves.

Need Help? Submit a case.

Get Connected to Goldwater

Sign up for the latest news, event updates, and more.