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Goldwater seeks equal protection for Native American boy in Minnesota

November 21, 2017

Phoenix—In an effort to give Native American children the rights to which they are entitled by the U.S. Constitution, the Goldwater Institute has joined the appeal of a case involving the adoption of a 1-year-old Minnesota boy and the application of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

The young boy’s parents voluntarily placed him with an adoptive couple immediately after he was born, but because he was considered an “Indian child” as defined by ICWA, a separate and substandard set of rules govern his case. Among these rules are restrictions on adoption that make it extraordinarily difficult for non-Indian adults to adopt children of Native American ancestry, even with the consent of their birth parents. In this case, the birth parents agreed to the adoption, but the mother’s tribe is attempting to override that decision. The trial court barred the adoption from being approved.

The Goldwater Institute, representing the adoptive parents, has teamed up with attorneys for the birth parents and the adoption agency, all of whom are jointly appealing the case to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. “Even though the boy’s birth parents consented to his adoption, the opportunity for the boy to become part of a loving home that wants him was halted by a federal law that treats Native American children differently—and worse—from the way all other American children are treated,” said Adi Dynar, an attorney for the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation. “We are appealing this case to ensure that this boy and many others like him don’t receive substandard treatment because they happen to be Native American.”

“The Indian Child Welfare Act makes it more difficult to find Native American children permanent, stable homes, and this case is a perfect example of that,” said Timothy Sandefur, vice president for litigation at the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation. “This child’s birth parents want him to be adopted, and the prospective adoptive parents want to care for him, but because he fits a certain racial profile, different rules apply. That’s a disgrace—all children deserve equal treatment and the right to have their best interests prioritized.”

Read more about the case, In re. A.J.F., here.


About the Goldwater Institute

The Goldwater Institute drives results by working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and strengthen the freedom guaranteed to all Americans in the constitutions of the United States and all 50 states. With the blessing of its namesake, the Goldwater Institute opened in 1988. Its early years focused on defending liberty in Barry Goldwater’s home state of Arizona.  Today, the Goldwater Institute is a national leader for constitutionally limited government respected by the left and right for its adherence to principle and real world impact. No less a liberal icon than the New York Times calls the Goldwater Institute a “watchdog for conservative ideals” that plays an “outsize role” in American political life.



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