Press Release

Cooley, ACLU Urge Supreme Court to Uphold Indian Child Welfare Act

August 19, 2022

San Francisco – August 19, 2022 – Cooley and the American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of the ACLU and 14 of its regional affiliates, filed an amicus brief with the US Supreme Court urging it to uphold the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which is set to be reviewed this fall in Brackeen v. Haaland. Partners Kathleen Hartnett and Adam Gershenson, along with associate Patrick Hayden, are leading the Cooley team representing the ACLU.

The brief argues that the ICWA is constitutional and urges the Supreme Court to maintain the centuries long legal precedent upholding tribal sovereignty, which includes tribes’ rights and abilities to preserve their unique cultural identities, raise their own children and self-govern.

The ICWA establishes basic requirements to protect Native American children from continued forced removal from their families, tribes and tribal culture, and it requires state courts to make active efforts to keep Native families together.

“We are honored to represent the ACLU in showing how the challenged provisions of the critical federal law protecting Native children are plainly constitutional,” Hartnett said. “Native families have a right to stay together, care for their children, and preserve tribal culture by ensuring access to their cultural identity, language and heritage.”

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Brackeen v. Haaland on November 9.

Read the amicus brief

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