20150918_amici_briefLast week, NARF filed an amici curiae (friend of the court) brief in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on behalf of the National Congress of American Indians, the National Indian Child Welfare Association, and the Association on American Indian Affairs in the case National Council for Adoption v. Jewell et al.

In 1979, the Bureau of Indian Affairs published the Guidelines for State Courts in Indian Child Custody Proceedings in order to assist state courts and child welfare agencies in implementing the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.  Earlier this year, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn published the first revisions to the since their publication 35 years ago.  The revised Guidelines synthesize 35 years of case law, legislative changes, and evolution in social work practice in order to provide state courts with additional guidance and clarity in implementing ICWA.

The National Council for Adoption together with other private adoption advocates filed suit against the BIA alleging the revised Guidelines illegally infringed on the rights of Indian children, parents, and prospective adoptive families.  In addition, the plaintiffs have claimed that ICWA itself is unconstitutional.  In response, the United States Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss all of the plaintiffs’ claims.  The amici parties NARF represents all have an interest in seeing the revised Guidelines and ICWA itself upheld; thus NARF filed an amici brief addressing the legal basis for ICWA and the revised Guidelines, and the necessity of the revised Guidelines in ensuring compliance with ICWA.

Download the brief from the National Indian Law Library.  Want to learn more about this issue?  Click here to learn more about NARF’s work with the ICWA Defense Project.

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