Brackeen v. Haaland
U.S. SUPREME COURT RULES ON THE BRACKEEN CASE JUNE 15, 2023
On June 15, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Haaland v. Brackeen regarding the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). We are actively analyzing the opinion, but the initial analysis is that the Court, in a 7-2 opinion, has upheld ICWA and affirmed its constitutionality.
Read more about next steps HERE.
WHAT IS THIS CASE ABOUT?
Haaland v. Brackeen was a constitutional attack on the Indian Child Welfare Act. The State of Texas challenged ICWA for years, claiming it is unconstitutional based on several arguments. In February 2022, the case was accepted for review by the United States Supreme Court and arguments were heard on November 9, 2022.
WHY IS THIS CASE SO IMPORTANT?
The Brackeen v. Haaland case is very important for several reasons:
- The decision of the Court impacted ICWA across the country;
- Unlike some prior high-profile cases, the challenge to ICWA was not about a certain provision of the law, it was about whether the law should exist at all;
- The goal of the parties that brought this case was not to just an attack on ICWA and it was not just a case about Indian children, it was a challenge to tribal sovereignty and whether the laws of tribal nationhood and tribal citizenship are legitimate.
HOW HAS CTFC UNITED TRIBES IN THIS EFFORT?
The Coalition has worked for the last several years to unite tribal voices in California in the Brackeen case. The Coalition partnered with other tribal organizations to secure tribal signatures on “friend of the Court” briefs (also called Amicus Briefs) to be certain ALL tribes in California have a voice in this pivotal case. Further, the Coalition conducts webinars and trainings addressing Brackeen issues on request. CTFC works with the intervening tribes, specifically, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, on litigation, public inquiries and legislative strategy.
In 2022, the Coalition formalized an initiative known as the California ICWA Institute. The Institute supports the mission of CTFC as a place thought leaders and experts in tribal child welfare can create, iterate, and operationalize a proactive California playbook to neutralize and defeat legal, political, policy and communications attacks on tribal power in child welfare. The Institute recognizes the pivotal role that California tribal child welfare policy and jurisprudence has on national tribal child welfare issues and thus advances the mission of the Institute with a lens on the national impacts and scalability of the Institute’s work.
Read more about the CA ICWA Institute in the news:
HOW DOES THIS CASE IMPACT ICWA IN CALIFORNIA?
ICWA was upheld in its entirety! CTFC and tribes will continue advocating for policies and to protect tribal children, families and tribal sovereignty to the greatest extent possible.