'Baby Veronica' Birth Mom Drops Bid To Overturn ICWA
CHARLESTON, South Carolina - The birth mother of "Baby Veronica" has withdrawn her federal lawsuit in South Carolina which had sought to overturn portions of the Indian Child Welfare Act.
In the lawsuit, Maldonado et al v. Holder, Christinna Maldonado also names the Cherokee Nation as a defendant.
Maldonado filed the suit in July 2013 and a judge dismissed it at her request on January 27, 2014.
Matt and Melanie Capobianco, Veronica's adoptive parents in South Carolina, lost custody to Dusten Brown based on a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling citing the Indian Child Welfare Act, which was intended to keep Native American children with their families.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the act didn't apply to Brown's case. Brown handed over custody of Veronica in October 2013.
Maldonado and several others filed a federal lawsuit saying the Indian preference under section 1915 of ICWA is unconstitutional, because it "discriminates on the basis of race, ethnicity, and/or citizenship in violation of the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."
Chrissi Ross Nimmo, Assistant Attorney General, Cherokee Nation, released the following statement about the lawsuit being dropped:
Cherokee Nation (or any of the other defendants) was never served with the complaint Maldonado, et al v. Holder, et al., so we had not actively followed the suit. As such, Cherokee Nation was not served a copy the Notice of Dismissal and were unaware that the case had been closed until last week.
Adoptive parents Matt and Melanie Capobianco filed a lawsuit in Nowata County in November 2013 asking for more than $1 million in court costs accrued during their custody battle for Veronica.
The lawsuit named Veronica's biological father and the Cherokee Nation, who helped him fight for custody.
That lawsuit is still active.
"The matter has been fully briefed by all sides and we are simply waiting for an order from the court," said Chrissi Ross Nimmo, Assistant Attorney General for the Cherokee Nation.