Children from the Zuni Pueblo lead the U.S. pledge of allegiance in the Zuni language in the New Mexico state Capitol in Santa Fe, N.M.

Brackeen v. Haaland

Court Type: U.S. Supreme Court
Status: Ongoing
Last Update: August 21, 2022

What's at Stake

On August 18, 2022 the American Civil Liberties Union, along with 12 ACLU state affiliates and represented by Cooley LLP, filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court urging the court to uphold the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Summary

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) — which establishes basic requirements to protect Native American children from continued forced removal from their families, tribes, and tribal culture — is slated to be reviewed by the Supreme Court this fall via Brackeen v. Haaland.

The Indian Child Welfare Act was passed by Congress in 1978 to address the nationwide epidemic of American Indian children being forcibly removed from their homes by child welfare agencies and placed into non-Native homes at disproportionate rates. Throughout history, federal and state governments have sought to undermine and threaten the existence of tribes via the forced separation and assimilation of Native children. ICWA requires state courts to make active efforts to keep Native families together. The law aims to prioritize the placement of Native children within their extended families or tribal communities, where their cultural identities will be understood and celebrated. If the Supreme Court overturns ICWA, states would once again be allowed to indiscriminately remove Native children from their families and culture while simultaneously depriving tribes of future generations — putting the very existence of tribes in jeopardy.

The brief was filed by the ACLU, ACLU of NorCal, ACLU of Alaska, ACLU of Arizona, ACLU of Maine, ACLU of Montana, ACLU of Nebraska, ACLU of New Mexico, ACLU of Oklahoma, ACLU of South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wyoming chapter, ACLU of Texas, ACLU of Utah, and ACLU of Washington.

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