The Supreme Court seemed conflicted on arguments presented during a challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) on Wednesday, Nina Totenberg reports for NPR. Lawyers for the state of Texas and potential adoptive parents who are not Native argued that the ICWA violates the constitution and discriminates against them based on race. The ICWA prioritizes placing Native children with Native families.
As part of their counter argument, the U.S. government and tribal representatives described how U.S. courts have consistently considered Native Americans or American Indians to be a political group within the U.S., not solely a racial one. Justice Neil Gorsuch, who has experience in tribal law and litigation from before his time on the Supreme Court, pointed toward the complete authority Congress has to legislate on American Indian issues — making the matter an objection to legislation, not a constitutional issue that should be in the courts.