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Children’s Legal Advocates Applaud Landmark Decision

Thursday June 15, 2023

Contacts: Amory Zschach [email protected]; Katy Otto, [email protected]; Evan Molinari, [email protected], 339-707-0406


Amici who joined effort to defend the Indian Child Welfare Act respond to Supreme Court ruling

Washington, DC  – In a victory for Native youth, families and Tribal Nations, the Supreme Court today upheld the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in a 7-2 decision. The Court issued its ruling in Haaland v. Brackeen, affirming that ICWA safeguards children’s rights, supports family integrity for Indian families, and properly protects the rights of Tribal Nations to be involved in child welfare matters involving their members.

“The children’s rights community celebrates the Supreme Court decision upholding the Indian Child Welfare Act,” said Allison Green, Legal Director of the National Association of Counsel for Children. “This decision protects children’s rights, helps judges make informed decisions, and respects tribal self-determination.”

Justice Barrett delivered the majority opinion. Justice Gorsuch delivered a concurring opinion contextualizing ICWA as a response to the brutal history of mass removal of Native families by state officials and private parties and the devastating effects that the dissolution of the Native family has on parents and children alike.

Last year, the National Association of Counsel for Children and 31 children’s rights organizations across the United States joined an amicus brief in this case. The brief argued that ICWA safeguards the constitutional rights at stake in child welfare proceedings for Native American/Alaska Native children, including protecting families from unwarranted state intervention and preserving the constitutional right to family integrity. The brief further argued that ICWA aligns with state courts’ efforts to serve the best interests of Native American/Alaska Native children and to gather critical information to support sound judicial decisions.

The Protect ICWA Campaign, made up of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, the National Congress of American Indians, Native American Rights Fund, and the Association on American Indian Affairs—released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Haaland v. Brackeen case:

“We are overcome with joy that the Supreme Court has upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which is widely regarded as the gold standard of child welfare. To fully understand the implications of this decision, we are conducting a thorough legal review and will provide in-depth analysis this afternoon.

One thing is certain: ICWA is crucial for the safety and well-being of Native children and families and the future of Native peoples and Tribal Nations. The positive impact of today’s decision will be felt across generations.”

We applaud the decision today, and are available for interview or comment.


National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) works to support the safety, health, and spiritual strength of American Indian and Alaska Native children along the broad continuum of their lives. We support tribes in building the capacity to prevent child abuse and neglect through positive systems change at the state, federal, and tribal levels. We are the most comprehensive source of information on American Indian and Alaska Native child welfare.

Founded in 1977, the National Association of Counsel for Children is a non-profit professional membership and advocacy organization dedicated to advancing justice for children, youth, and families. NACC provides programs, training, certification, and resources that improve the quality of legal representation for children, parents, and agencies; supports a community of dedicated professionals and helps attract and retain diverse talent in the children’s legal advocacy profession; and advocates for policies that advance children’s rights, including the right to counsel. and on social media @NACCchildlaw

Juvenile Law Center fights for rights, dignity, equity, and opportunity for youth. We work to reduce the harm of the child welfare and justice systems, limit their reach, and ultimately abolish them so all young people can thrive. For more information about Juvenile Law Center’s work, visit

Public Counsel has worked with communities and clients for over fifty years to create a more just society through legal services, advocacy, and civil rights litigation. Public Counsel is committed to removing legal barriers for children, youth, families and communities of color most impacted by racism and economic injustice. In our work with children and families, we see how the long reach of the child welfare system separates children, both formally and informally, from their families, communities, and culture–creating trauma that reverberates through generations.  For more information about Public Counsel’s work, visit Public Counsel | Pro Bono Law

The National Center for Youth Law centers youth through research, community collaboration, impact litigation, and policy advocacy that fundamentally transforms our nation’s approach to education, health, immigration, foster care, and youth justice. Our vision is a world in which every child thrives and has a full and fair opportunity to achieve the future they envision for themselves. For more information, visit

Youth Law Center is a national civil rights firm that works for and in collaboration with young people to transform youth serving systems so that every child and youth can thrive. For more information, visit

Children’s Rights is a national advocacy organization dedicated to improving the lives of children living in or impacted by America’s child welfare, juvenile legal, education, and healthcare systems. We use civil rights impact litigation, advocacy, and policy expertise, and public education to hold governments accountable for keeping kids safe and healthy. Our work centers on creating lasting systemic change that will advance the rights of children for generations. For more information, please visit

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