Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Supreme Court Denies Review in ICWA Case

The United States Supreme Court today denied review in Doe v. Mann, a case out of California contesting whether a Public Law 280 state had current jurisdiction with the tribe over Indian child welfare proceedings brought to enforce state child protection laws.  The Elem Indian Colony had contested California’s jurisdiction over such proceedings, claiming that it was regulatory in nature and therefore not within the scope of jurisdiction granted to states covered by Public Law 280.  The Ninth Circuit had rejected the argument, noting that Congress was aware when it enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) that some states already were exercising such jurisdiction.  Rather than undoing the existing jurisdictional arrangements, Congress ratified them in ICWA and provided a procedure, which the Elem Indian Colony had not invoked, by which an Indian tribe could initiate the resumption of exclusive jurisdiction over Indian child placement proceedings involving member children domiciled on the reservation.  That opinion can be found here.  The United States Supreme Court has now declined review and therefore has not overturned the Ninth Circuit’s interpretation.


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