I join Caleb Brown at the Cato Daily Podcast for a discussion of the constitutional and practical problems with the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 and the challenge currently before the Fifth Circuit in Brackeen v. Bernhardt.
- “Per Hailey’s Law, Washington state police are required to impound a vehicle any time they arrest the driver for a DUI, regardless of whether the car is off the road or someone else can safely drive it away. But that violates the state’s constitution, explains the Washington Supreme Court, because warrantless seizures require individualized consideration of the circumstances. This law eliminates that individualized consideration, and the legislature cannot legislate constitutional rights away.” [Institute for Justice “Short Circuit” on Washington v. Villela, in which it signed on to (IJ signed on to an amicus brief; David Rasbach, Bellingham Herald)
- “The Great American Vape Panic of 2019 Is Producing Some Wild Lawsuits” [Alex Norcia, Vice; Priscilla DeGregory and Ben Feuerherd, New York Post]
- Federal judge rejects state’s challenge to SALT tax revisions, push to raise minimum legal age for marriage, aerial police surveillance in Baltimore, pension funding and more in my new Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes] Yuripzy Morgan took time on her WBAL radio show to discuss my article on the Supreme Court’s consideration of job bias law and you can listen here;
- Great moments in reparations: candidates propose dropping cash from airplanes on neighborhoods that were redlined 50+ years ago. But mostly different people live there now [Robert VerBruggen, National Review; Andre M. Perry and David Harshbarger, Brookings Institution]
- Full Fifth Circuit should review ruling upholding Indian Child Welfare Act against constitutional challenge [Ilya Shapiro on Cato amicus brief seeking en banc reconsideration in Brackeen v. Bernhard; earlier]
- Bay Area: “Donor who gave $45K to elect sheriff got coveted gun permit from her office” [Josh Koehn, Matthias Gafni and Joaquin Palomino, San Francisco Chronicle; Santa Clara County, Calif.]
- “We’re not asking for the Wild West. We’re asking for cookies.” New Jersey is the last state without a law legalizing at least some cottage food sales [Amelia Nierenberg, New York Times]
- Reversing district court, Fifth Circuit panel upholds Indian Child Welfare Act against constitutional objections; dissent by Judge Owen finds a commandeering problem [Brackeen v. Bernhardt, earlier]
- “The Larsens’ videos are a form of speech that is entitled to First Amendment protection.” Eighth Circuit panel rules [correctly, in my view] for videographers who wish to craft wedding videos only when the ceremonies accord with their religious beliefs [Telescope Media Group v. Lucero; Eugene Volokh]
- “Innocent man spent months in jail for bringing honey back to United States” [Lynn Bui, Washington Post/MSN]
- Preakness, Peter Pan Inn, relocating USDA jobs, Baltimore and Abell Foundation in my new Free State Notes roundup;
- Pushing back against the argument, much circulated lately, that eviction is a major factor in causing poverty [John Eric Humphries, Nicholas Mader, Daniel Tannenbaum, Winnie van Dijk, Cowles Foundation]
“For Congress to impose a racialized and non-neutral regime on parents and children is not only unwise and unfair, but unconstitutional.” The Cato Institute has joined an amicus brief challenging the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in the Fifth Circuit case of Brackeen v. Bernhard. I’ve got more details in a new post at Cato at Liberty. Earlier on ICWA here.
I’ve got a new piece at Ricochet on the problems with the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, which a federal judge struck down as unconstitutional in October in a ruling (Brackeen v. Zinke) likely to be appealed. Excerpt:
One effect is to give tribal governments dangerous power over persons who never willingly submitted to their authority, including persons who have never set foot in Indian country. A couple briefly connect at a bar in Boston or Brooklyn or Baltimore one night and a child is born as a result. The father may not have mentioned at the time, indeed may only imperfectly remember, that as a child he was inducted into an affiliation with some faraway tribe toward whose leadership he has long felt indifferent or estranged. But ICWA covers as an “Indian child” any biological child of a tribal member so long as that child is “eligible for membership” in a tribe.
Sorry, Dad – and sorry, total-bystander Brooklyn Mom — but under ICWA that distant tribe now has a lot of power over your future. You are not necessarily free to make an adoption plan with some trusted member of your local community. Instead, you must submit to a distant tribal authority and prepare for the child’s possible “placement … in … homes [that] reflect the unique values of Indian culture.” What about your own cultural background as a non-Native parent, along with that of your relatives who may have been helping care for the child during his first years? Your youngster may have spent his life thus far immersed in that other culture — perhaps Korean-American, or Dominican, or African-American, or Eastern European. But the law cares not. In fact, it encourages as “ICWA-compliant” placement of your child with any Indian tribe around the country, however remote from that of either biological parent’s, in preference to any non-Native placement, however well matched to the circumstances of the child’s life thus far.
The law I really despise is the ICPC, the Interstate Compact for the Protection of Children. It was originally intended to stop states from dumping foster children in other states to take advantage of their looser welfare policies.
First, it would seem to me that this should be the price paid for having loose welfare policies, but beyond that the real effect of the law is horrendous.
What the act does is make it hard to move children to caregivers out of state without that state’s permission or agreement. That agreement can take many months. A court action to return children to parents or name the state as their conservator has to be completed within a deadline, usually one year.
So, I have several cases where the parents’ families are from out of state. They have a large family network in that other state. But we can’t move the children to that family and have to put them in foster care. By the time the ICPC is completed, the foster family has a vested interest in the children and now they are fighting, and often succeed, in keeping the children away from the blood family.
I find this result to be repulsive, and that result is not at all unusual. I have a case that just ended where the mom and the dad’s family in New Hampshire are both very fine with middle class homes and lots of family support, yet because the children had been kept in foster care the courts don’t want to “disrupt” their lives again. It’s just about the most asinine government policy ever.
This gets me curious about ICPC. Other comments about its history and workings, positive or otherwise, are welcome.
Our September 20 Cato legal panel on the Indian Child Welfare Act (more) was more timely than I could have imagined. In the federal case of Brackeen v. Zinke, discussed on the panel, Judge Ryan O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas on October 4 declared major provisions of ICWA unconstitutional on multiple grounds including equal protection and anti-commandeering doctrine. More: Timothy Sandefur; Matthew Fletcher, TurtleTalk; Emma Platoff, Texas Tribune; John Kelly, Chronicle of Social Change.
Appeal is likely. Just before the decision, the public-radio-associated program Native America Calling had a program showcasing tribal advocates’ views. I’ve written about the Act, including its constitutional and moral infirmities, here and, as part of a Cato Unbound symposium, here.
“Passed in 1978, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was intended to stop abusive practices by state and federal officials, who often removed Native American children from their families without sufficient justification. But today, ICWA is the subject of litigation in federal and state courts by challengers who argue that it imposes race-based restrictions on adoption and makes it harder for state officials to protect Native American children against abuse and neglect.”
On September 20 I moderated a Cato discussion of recent developments and upcoming challenges to ICWA, presented by Timothy Sandefur, Vice President for Litigation at the Goldwater Institute and author of Escaping the ICWA Penalty Box; Matthew McGill, attorney for plaintiffs in Brackeen v. Zinke, a major ICWA lawsuit under way in Texas; and Charles Rothfeld, who represented the birth father in the important ICWA case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. Earlier on ICWA here.