November 30th, 2007
The Iowa Supreme Court today said the state’s definition of “Indian child” violates the U.S. Constitution. In a unanimous decision, the court said the definition is too broad because it applies to “ethnic Indian” children who are not eligible for tribal membership. That conflicts with the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, which only applies to children who are members of a tribe or eligible for tribal membership, the court said.
“Because A.W. and S.W. do not qualify for tribal membership, they do not fall within the ‘political’ class of Indians traditionally regulated by federal statutes,” the 32-page decision stated, referring to two children whose mother is a member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska but whose father is white. The court said the Iowa Indian Child Welfare Act violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because it creates a class of children based on their “ethnic” status.
Iowa court rules law defining Indian children is too broad (AP 11/30)Â Â Â Get the Decision:
IN THE INTEREST OF A.W. and S.W., Minor Children (November 30, 2007)
National Indian Child Welfare Association – http://www.nicwa.org