Motion to Dismiss here.
Plaintiffs do not seek the type of relief – increased funding or systemic changes in the quality of child-welfare services provided by state agencies – that the Ninth Circuit found unworthy of Younger abstention in Jamieson, 643 F.2d at 1354; instead, they demand that this Court enjoin state courts and agencies from applying long-standing state and federal laws to their ongoing child-custody proceedings, which clearly warrants equitable restraint under Younger.
Membership in a federally recognized Indian tribe, or being born the child of a member of such a sovereign entity, is not a forced association. ICWA does not require association, but rather protects associations that already exist.
In addition, Casey Family Programs plus twelve other national child welfare organizations filed this amicus brief (gold standard brief).
Finally, it is a key best practice to require courts to follow pre-established, objective rules that operate above the charged emotions of individual cases and that presume that preservation of a child’s ties to her parents is in her best interests. See National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, supra, at 14. Application of the best-interests-of-the-child standard should be guided by substantive rules and presumptions because “judges too may find it difficult, in utilizing vague standards like ‘the best interests of the child,’ to avoid decisions resting on subjective values.” Smith v. Organization of Foster Families for Equal. & Reform, 431 U.S. 816, 835 n.36 (1977). Courts should not terminate a child’s relationship to a parent based on “imprecise substantive standards that leave determinations unusually open to the subjective values of the judge.” Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 762-763 (1982).
Finally, the national Native organizations (NCAI, NICWA, AAIA) also filed this amicus brief (historical brief).
The Indian Child Welfare Act must be viewed in light of the historical abuses that it was intended to stop. For most of American history prior to ICWA’s enactment, federal Indian policy favored the removal of Indian children from their homes as a means of eroding Indian culture and tribes. State and private child welfare agencies later took on the implementation of these policies, carrying them out with little concern for the families or communities they affected. By the 1970’s, the widespread and wholesale removal of Indian children from their parents and communities resulted in a crisis recognized as “the most tragic and destructive aspect of American Indian life today.” H.R. REP. No. 95- 1386, at 9 (1978), reprinted in 1978 U.S.C.C.A.N. 7530, 7532.
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