August 22, 2022

Warren Joins Bipartisan, Bicameral Members of Congress to File Amicus Brief Defending the Indian Child Welfare Act in Haaland v. Brackeen

Group Of 87 Members Of Congress Filed Brief To Supreme Court Supporting the Indian Child Welfare Act

Text of Amicus Brief (PDF)

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Vice Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and U.S. Representatives Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.), co-chairs of the Congressional Native American Caucus, along with a bipartisan, bicameral group of 82 additional members of Congress, in filing an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court defending the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in the pending case, Haaland v. Brackeen.

Congress enacted ICWA in 1978 to protect the best interests of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children and promote the stability and security of AI/AN families and Tribal nations. ICWA sets best-practice standards and requirements for child welfare and adoption proceedings to prevent the unwarranted removal of children who are citizens of a federally-recognized tribal nation or are eligible for citizenship in a federally-recognized tribal nation from their families and tribal communities.

In 2019, Senator Warren joined more than 70 members of Congress in filing a bipartisan, bicameral brief supporting ICWA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. But in an April 2021 decision, the Fifth Circuit upheld certain sections of ICWA and flagged constitutional concerns about others, prompting appeals on both sides. The U.S. Supreme Court granted petitions to review the Fifth Circuit’s decision from the U.S. Department of Justice, intervening tribal nations, the state of Texas, and individual plaintiffs in Haaland v. Brackeen. The Supreme Court will hear the case on November 9, 2022.

Senator Warren supports ICWA and recognizes its importance to Indian Country. In 2018, she cosponsored a bipartisan resolution recognizing the 40th anniversary of ICWA. During her time in the Senate, Senator Warren has also worked to protect and advance tribal sovereignty, to emphasize the federal government’s trust and treaty responsibilities to tribal nations, and to affirm Washington’s government-to-government relationship with tribal nations. On September 30, 2021, she re-introduced the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act to establish a formal commission to investigate, document, and acknowledge the federal government's Boarding School Policies, which forcibly removed children from their tribal lands and families to strip Native children of their identities, cultures, and beliefs. Last year, she also introduced the American Indian and Alaska Native Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act with Senator Murkowski to protect the health and well-being of AI/AN children, and provisions of the bill were included in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act Reauthorization Act of 2021.