October 31, 2017
VICTORY! Ohio courts rule that C.J. can stay with his family!
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.
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 important cases for economic liberty, private property rights, free speech, and other matters in states across the country. Timothy is the author of several books, including Frederick… Read more...
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