Spring Semester starts Wednesday, and several family law courses are about to begin. Students in these classes and anyone interested in family law issues have an interesting case to watch as the U.S. Supreme Court tackles some complex and difficult family law issues in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, a case in which certiorari was granted yesterday. At the crossroads of state adoption law and the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. §§1901 et seq.), a federal statute passed "to protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by the establishment of minimum Federal standards for the removal of Indian children from their families and the placement of such children in foster or adoptive homes which will reflect the unique values of Indian culture," this case pits a Cherokee biological father against non-Indian adoptive parents who raised his daughter from birth to two years of age. The father then claimed her, was awarded custody by a state court, a decision later affirmed "with a heavy heart" by the South Carolina Supreme Court, and took her to Oklahoma to raise her in a Cherokee cultural home. The facts of the case are complex, in that the father had not taken steps to legally establish parenthood in South Carolina, where the adoptive parents reside, and the non-Indian mother had voluntarily relinquished the baby for adoption.
This case has already captured the interest of the national news media, as evidenced by coverage on CNN, and undoubtedly will be the subject of much legal commentary as the appeal proceeds. SCOTUSblog is a great place to follow developments and find case documents for this case and others on the high court's docket.
Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat
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