Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Baby Veronica case before U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday

Case challenges federal Indian Child Welfare Act

Posted by Sam Spence on Tue, Apr 16, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Melanie Capobianco of James Island (left) and Dusten Brown of Oklahoma with the now three year-old toddler
  • Melanie Duncan / Provided by National Congress of American Indians
  • Melanie Capobianco of James Island (left) and Dusten Brown of Oklahoma with the now three year-old toddler
Today, the case of Baby Veronica will go before the U.S. Supreme Court for oral arguments. Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl centers around the now-three year old toddler who was originally given up for adoption by her single mother to James Island residents Matt and Melanie Capobianco, but subsequently ordered to be turned over to her Native American birth father after he asserted custody under an obscure federal law.

Since being returned to her father, Dusten Brown, on New Year’s Eve 2011, the toddler has lived with Brown in Oklahoma. NPR's Nina Totenberg described the case today on Morning Edition and the case was the subject of a September 2012 CP cover story.

The case marks the first time in 24 years that the court will examine the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, which was enacted to protect Native American families and their heritage. The case hinges on the S.C. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the ICWA and how the law applies to specific circumstances of the case. The 2011 S.C. court decision ordered Veronica to be returned to her birth father. The U.S. Supreme Court case will likely be the final word on the emotional Veronica saga.

On Monday, the New York Times Editorial Board recommended that the Court overturn the S.C. Supreme Court's decision:

it makes little sense to allow a biological father who was not in the picture from surfacing belatedly and vetoing an adoption that would be in the best interests of the child. The Supreme Court should reverse the South Carolina State court rulings.

The Court will likely rule on the case this summer.

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