Oral Arguments Held in ICWA case Brackeen v. Bernhardt


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a woman and a man standing in front of courthouse door

NARF Staff Attorneys Erin Dougherty Lynch and Dan Lewerenz at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals for Brackeen v. Bernhardt hearing

Following today’s United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals oral arguments in the Brackeen v. Bernhardt case, the Protect ICWA Campaign* issued the following statements:

“We are confident the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will again confirm the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act,” said John Echohawk, Executive Director of the Native American Rights Fund.  “We will always stand with our children, families, and tribes against any and all efforts to diminish our communities, well-being, and sovereignty.”

“We look forward to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision,” said Sarah Kastelic, Executive Director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association. “We are confident the Fifth Circuit will affirm ICWA’s strong constitutional grounding. ICWA protects children in state child welfare systems and helps them remain connected to their families, cultures, and communities.”

“NCAI applauds the strong advocacy of the intervening tribes and the federal government, as Indian Country’s trustee, in defending the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act before the entire Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals this morning,” said Kevin Allis, NCAI Chief Executive Officer. “We pray for relief that upholds ICWA in its entirety and continues to protect the best interests of Indian children and families.”

“There has been an overwhelming amount of resources coming forward to support the Indian Child Welfare Act. We should be spending our resources protecting Indian children and not fighting interest groups that seek to dismantle the government-to-government relationship between the United States and Tribes. The Fifth Circuit will be on the right side of history protecting Indian children, and by doing so strengthening the child welfare system for all children,” said Shannon Keller O’Loughlin, Executive Director and Attorney for the Association on American Indian Affairs.

Read more about the Brackeen v. Bernhardt (formerly Zinke) case.

∗ The Protect ICWA Campaign was established by four national Native organizations: the National Indian Child Welfare Association, the National Congress of American Indians, the Association on American Indian Affairs, and the Native American Rights Fund. Together, the Campaign works to serve and support Native children, youth, and families through upholding the Indian Child Welfare Act. The Campaign works to inform policy, legal, and communications strategies with the mission to uphold and protect ICWA.