Case Summary Citation

Brackeen v. Zinke, ___F. Supp. 3d___, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173115, 2018 WL 4927908 (N.D. Tex. Oct. 4, 2018).


In 1978, Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act to counter practices of removing Indian children from their homes, and to ensure the continued existence of Indian tribes through their children. The law created a framework establishing how Indian children are adopted as a way to protect those children and their relationship with their tribe. ICWA also established federal standards for Indian children being placed into non-Indian adoptive homes. Brackeen v. Zinke made an important distinction for the placement preferences of the Indian children adopted by non-Indian plaintiffs; rather than viewing the placement preferences in ICWA as based upon Indians’ political classification, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas viewed the preferences as based upon a racial classification, to which strict scrutiny applies. The court concluded that ICWA was unconstitutional, potentially opening the door to allow the same abusive practices to resurface in regard to removal and adoption of Indian children.



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