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How ICWA Deprives Native American Parents of Their Rights

April 23, 2018

by Timothy Sandefur
April 23, 2018

We often talk about how the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) deprives Native American children of their right to equal protection under the law. But what’s often overlooked is that ICWA also violates the rights of Native American parents to promote their kids’ best interests.

In The Weekly Standard, I take a look at how ICWA overrides the rights of parents—rights the Supreme Court has called “fundamental.” In cases where Native American parents want to sever the rights of abusive or neglectful ex-spouses, for example, or to allow step-parents to legally adopt their kids, or in cases where birth parents agree to an adoption—ICWA allows tribal governments to veto those choices.

In a shocking case in Florida recently, tribal police officers even seized a baby out of the maternity ward of a hospital, using a tribal court order and their authority under ICWA. That’s because ICWA—as the Supreme Court has said—puts tribal governments “on a parity” with parents in terms of their rights. Yet the Court has also said that it’s unconstitutional to put anyone else “on a parity” with parents in this way.

You can learn more at this link.

Timothy Sandefur is Vice President for Litigation at the Goldwater Institute.



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