Goldwater Institute to File a Class Action Lawsuit Against ICWA

This should be a call to arms for Indian country. This is presumably a well funded organization with a litigation, scholarly, and public relations strategy. Indian country lost Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl because the adoption industry won the PR battle before Indian country even noticed. It’s time to act.

From the press release we received. This will become the third ongoing federal lawsuit challenging ICWA:

Goldwater Institute to File Class Action Lawsuit Against Indian Child Welfare Act

Institute launching Equal Protection for Indian Children Project to reform federal and state laws that discriminate against abused and neglected Native American children

 Contact: Starlee Coleman, (602) 758-9162

 Phoenix—Tomorrow, Tuesday, July 7, the Goldwater Institute will launch a new project to reform the Indian Child Welfare Act and similar state laws that give abused and neglected Native American children fewer rights and protections than other American children. Part of this project will be a class action lawsuit.

 “When an abused child is removed from his or her home and placed in foster care or made available for adoption, judges are required to make a decision about where the child will live based on the child’s best interest. Except for Native American children. Courts are bound by federal law to disregard a Native American child’s best interest and place the child in a home with other Native Americans, even if it is not in his or her best interest,” said Darcy Olsen, president of the Goldwater Institute. “We want federal and state laws to be changed to give abused and neglected Native American children the same protections that are given to all other American children: the right to be placed in a safe home based on their best interests, not based on their race.”

 On July 7, the Goldwater Institute will file a federal class action lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of core provisions of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act. The same day, the Institute will release an investigative report that documents how federal law leaves Native American children with fewer protections under the law than all other American children, and the serious consequences that have resulted from this unequal treatment. Recommendations for changes to state and federal law will also be announced.

 Two weeks ago both the House and Senate passed the Native American Child Protection Act that for the first time requires prospective adoptive and foster parents to be fingerprinted. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is currently considering turning recent guidelines into formal federal rules that would further entrench the legal discrimination against Native American children.

 Clint Bolick, the vice president of litigation at the Goldwater Institute, litigated a class action in Texas in 1995 that was the impetus behind the federal Multi-ethnic Placement Act, which outlawed delays or denials in foster care or adoption placements on the basis of the race, color, or national origin of the child or the adults involved.

 Media is invited to watch via live stream a press event that will formally announce the details of the lawsuit, release the investigation, and policy recommendations, and screen an original 8-minute documentary film. The briefing will feature Dr. William B. Allen, the former chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

 What:              Press conference announcing the Equal Protection for Indian Children Project and federal class action lawsuit

When:             Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 9:00 a.m. Pacific time


Who:               Press event will feature Darcy Olsen, president of the Goldwater Institute; Clint Bolick, the Institute’s vice president of litigation; Mark Flatten, the author of the Institute’s investigative report to be released; Dr. William Allen

 Please contact Starlee Coleman at scoleman@goldwaterinstitute or (602) 758-9162 with questions.


7 thoughts on “Goldwater Institute to File a Class Action Lawsuit Against ICWA

  1. karl July 6, 2015 / 4:00 pm

    we will lose a defensive battle, we must go on the offensive

  2. James Latimer July 6, 2015 / 5:00 pm

    So let me make sure I understand this correctly…these white people are going to protect our children by removing the only protection they have…? Sounds legit on it’s face (sarcasm). First of all, it is in the best interest of an Indian Child that its relationship to the tribe be protected (See Holyfield). Second, ICWA isn’t based on race, it’s based on political affiliation. Third, “the best interests of the child…is not traditionally the sole criterion-much less the sole constitutional criterion-for other, less narrowly channeled judgments involving children [than simply proceedings between mom and dad], where their interests conflict in varying degrees with the interests of others…Similarly, “the best interests of the child” is not the legal standard that governs parents’ or guardians’ exercise of their custody…the interests of the child may be subordinated to the interests of other children, or indeed even to the interests of the parents or guardians themselves”. (See Reno v. Flores.) Certainly, in this case, the child’s interest could even be subordinated, not only to the interests of the parents, guardians, or other children, but to the tribe as well…if it were not already in the child’s best interest that its relationship to the tribe be protected…which it is. – People like this irritate me. Why can’t they just mind their own business and leave our children alone?

  3. Ryan Mills July 7, 2015 / 12:02 pm

    This should defintely be a call to Arms for Indian Country and I am sending this out to as many people as possible. I will be watching to see what their logic behind this lawsuit is. Race based law discriminating against Natives…come on.

  4. rookie July 9, 2015 / 3:51 pm

    Is this the 21st century? Let me check….July 9, 2015….yes it is! This type of thinking created the boarding schools. It was this type of thinking that has caused great distress among the Native American people and their communities. It was this type of thinking that forced western education onto all people regardless of race which is NOT in the “best interest” of the people. Now it continues for non-tribal people (which still does not understand the Native American way) to try and take Indian children away from their own people to be placed in a more confusing and violent society? Makes no sense to me…

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