Haaland v. Brackeen

New Decision

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was enacted in 1978 to promote the stability and security of Native American/Alaska Native tribes and families and protect the best interests of Native American/Alaska Native children, in response to Congress’s finding “that an alarmingly high percentage of [Native American/Alaska Native] families are broken up by the removal, often unwarranted, of their children from them . . . and that an alarmingly high percentage of such children are placed in non-[Native American/Alaska Native] foster and adoptive homes and institutions.” The State of Texas and several individual plaintiffs have recently challenged the constitutionality of ICWA.  

Juvenile Law Center joined National Association of Counsel for Children and 29 other advocacy organizations in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, urging the court to uphold the constitutionality of ICWA. The brief argued that ICWA safeguards the constitutional rights at stake in child welfare proceedings for Native American/Alaska Native children, including protecting families from unwarranted state intervention and preserving the constitutional right to family integrity. The brief further argued that ICWA aligns with state courts’ efforts to serve the best interests of Native American/Alaska Native children and provides critical information and support to state courts. 

In a win for tribal sovereignty and Native American/Alaska Native youth, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the various challenges raised by the petitioners and affirmed ICWA’s constitutionality. In a powerful concurrence, Justice Gorsuch, joined by Justices Sotomayor and Jackson, explained the historical context of ICWA as “a direct response to the mass removal of [Native American/Alaska Native] children from their families” and highlighted the act’s importance for Native American/Alaska Native children, families, and tribes.

Court Documents