UPDATE: Brackeen Partial Victory for Kids, Despite Tribal Leaders Continuing Demand that Congress Retain Plenary Control OVER EVERYONE
Why do tribal leaders WANT Congress to have “plenary and exclusive” power over ALL tribal members? In a land where life, liberty are supposed to be guaranteed, it is so backward and insane to want “Father government” to retain complete control over your membership.
From our attorney:
The 5th Circuit’s En Banc opinion in the Brackeen case is a lengthy opinion that, in part, affirms the District Court’s ruling that portions of ICWA are unconstitutional. This is good news, but, because the En Banc Court was not able to reach a majority in their reasoning, certain swaths of the decision are not precedential. This means that the opinion, although generally positive for plaintiffs, will have limited applicability in later cases. And it may mean that a Supreme Court appeal is less likely, although it is still possible.
CAICW’s amicus argument is referenced briefly in Judge Duncan’s opinion (around page 182-183). This is typical for amicus briefs, particularly ones like CAICW’s which was highlighting a separate and tangential point for any potential Supreme Court review.
Although the opinion is complicated, it can be summarized as follows: (1) the plaintiffs have standing to assert their claims; (2) Congress had authority to enact ICWA and the “Indian Child” classification does not violate Equal Protection, but the Court could not agree as to whether ICWA’s placement preferences constituted a violation, thus the District Court’s ruling on that point is affirmed without precedential opinion; (3) portions of ICWA unconstitutionally commandeer state actors, but the Court is divided on whether other portions constitute unconstitutional commandeering, so the District Court’s ruling on those latter points is affirmed without precedential opinion; (4) ICWA’s allowing Indian tribes to establish different adoptive and foster preferences does not violate the non-delegation doctrine; and (5) although the BIA did not violated the APA, the portion of the Final Rule interpreting “good cause” violated the APA.
As for next steps, the parties have until June to seek certiorari from the Supreme Court. If they choose not to do so, the case will be returned to the District Court for further proceedings to determine the harm suffered by plaintiffs.