The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in four cases challenging the constitutionality of a decades-old federal law aimed at protecting Native American children.
The Court granted certiorari Monday in Brackeen v. Haaland, consolidating it with three other cases: Haaland v. Brackeen, Cherokee Nation v. Brackeen, and Texas v. Haaland.
“The petitions for writs of certiorari are granted,” the Court said in its order Monday, adding that the cases will be consolidated going forward. The Court limited oral argument to a total of one hour and set a briefing schedule for the parties.
All four cases stem from efforts by Chad Brackeen and Jennifer Brackeen, a Texas couple, to adopt a Navajo child. The Brackeens, who are white evangelical Christians and not Native American, had sought to adopt the boy, who was placed in their care in 2016 when he was 10 months old. When they tried to adopt him the following year, a court ruled that under the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA), the child must be sent to a Navajo family to whom he was not related.
The Brackeens filed a lawsuit challenging ICWA. They argue that the law, originally passed to protect Native American children after studies showed that a number of them were being placed in non-Native American homes despite relatives being willing to take them in, violates their constitutional right to Equal Protection.