Justia International Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Government Law
In combined cases, the Supreme Court examined the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to decide whether several issues relating to the Act's notice provision mandate notice be sent to the appropriate tribe or to the Secretary of the Interior. Because the question of whether notice violations occurred in these cases began with determining whether the tribal-notice requirement was triggered, the Court first considered what indicia of Indian heritage sufficed to trigger the notice requirement. Further, the Court then considered whether a parent could waive the rights granted by ICWA to an Indian child's tribe and determine the appropriate recordkeeping requirements necessary to document the trial court's efforts to comply with ICWA's notice provision. "While it is impossible to articulate a precise rule that will encompass every possible factual situation, in light of the interests protected by ICWA, the potentially high costs of erroneously concluding that notice need not be sent, and the relatively low burden of erring in favor of requiring notice, we think the standard for triggering the notice requirement of 25 USC 1912(a) must be a cautionary one." Upon review, the Supreme Court held that: (1) sufficiently reliable information of virtually any criteria on which tribal membership might be based suffices to trigger the notice requirement; (2) a parent of an Indian child cannot waive the separate and independent ICWA rights of an Indian child's tribe and that the trial court must maintain a documentary record; and (3) the proper remedy for an ICWA-notice violation is to conditionally reverse the trial court and remand for resolution of the ICWA-notice issue.View "In re J.L. Gordon, Minor" on Justia Law