Sinema and Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Urge Federal Court to Protect Indian Child Welfare Act

Jan 10, 2020

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema and a group of bipartisan lawmakers from the House and Senate filed an amicus brief in federal court underlining the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act urging the court to protect the law.
“Native American children in Arizona and across the country deserve to be able to grow up with the support of their communities. Protecting the Indian Child Welfare Act ensures tribal families can stay together,” said Sinema.
The bipartisan and bicameral brief was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit as the court re-opens its August ruling that affirmed the Indian Child Welfare Act’s constitutionality in Brackeen v. Bernhardt. The amicus brief urges the Fifth Circuit to uphold the court’s previous decision affirming the constitutionality of the law. The decision the Fifth Circuit issued in August reversed an unprecedented ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas which wrongly struck down the Indian Child Welfare Act as unconstitutional.
Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978 after receiving testimony that 25 to 35 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native children were removed from their homes by state and private adoption agencies. The law sets best-practice standards for child welfare and adoption proceedings involving children who are members of a federally-recognized Tribe or are eligible for membership in a federally-recognized Tribe. Over four decades, the law has become the “gold standard” for child welfare policy and keeping Native children connected to their communities and cultures.