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Goldwater Institute asks U.S. Supreme Court to ensure Native American children’s rights are protected

November 27, 2017

Phoenix—The Goldwater Institute has asked the United States Supreme Court to step in to protect the constitutional rights of some of the country’s most vulnerable citizens: Native American children.

Today, the Institute filed a petition for certiorari in the case of Renteria v. Superior Court, a particularly tragic case involving the fate of three young California children. After their parents were killed in a car accident, the children were taken by their mother’s family—as their parents had wanted. But their father had been a member of the Miwok tribe, and his relatives obtained an order to send the children to live with their father’s family on the Miwok reservation, even though the children had never resided on the reservation and lived in a different county altogether.

Tribal officials demanded that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) be applied to the children’s case, which requires all Native American children to be placed with Native American adults in child custody cases, solely on the basis of their race. In August, California Supreme Court decided not to take the case.

“As citizens of this country, Native American children deserve the same rights as all other American kids, but because the Indian Child Welfare Act applies to cases involving their welfare, they are too often blocked from receiving what the Constitution promises them,” said Timothy Sandefur, vice president for litigation at the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf–Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation. “This denial of equal protection deserves the attention of the United States’ highest court, and we hope the Supreme Court will agree that this codification of substandard treatment should not stand.”

The Goldwater Institute has long been involved in the issue of equal protection for Native American children and is currently involved in litigation across the country to ensure they are treated the same as other children as the Constitution requires. For more information about recent cases involving ICWA, read Sandefur’s recent report, Escaping the ICWA Penalty Box: In Defense of Equal Protection for Indian Children.


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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