Cherokee Nation To Appeal Decision Striking Down Native American Adoption Law


Friday, October 12th 2018, 1:15 am
By: News On 6


The Cherokee Nation is planning to appeal a decision last week that struck down a law governing the adoptions of Native American children, according to Cherokee Nation Deputy Attorney General Chrissi Ross Nimmo. The law, which was meant to keep the children within Native American families, was deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge in Texas.

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor, in an October 4th ruling, found that the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) illegally gives Native American families preferential treatment in adoption proceedings for Native American children based on race. 

The ruling found that the law was in violation of the Fifth Amendment's equal protection guarantee.

O'Connor ruled that the law violated the 10th Amendment's federalism guarantees, including the''anti-commandeering'' principle that was established by the Supreme Court, most recently in a 2018 sports gambling case that bars Congress from ''commanding'' states to modify their laws.

In this case, O'Connor found the law ''offends the structure of the Constitution,'' since it requires state courts to implement a policy ''unequivocally dictated'' by the federal government. The same principle has been used by two federal courts, in Pennsylvania and California, to block Trump administration action on sanctuary cities.

The decision has shocked Native American advocates who have relied upon the law to help promote stability and keep Native American families and tribes together.

9/16/2013 Related Story: Oklahoma City Family Says Indian Child Welfare Act Is Being Misused

Nimmo said that the Cherokee Nation has filed to stay the decision, and that they have 60 days to file an appeal because the United States is a party.

CBS News contributed to this report.