Charleston, S.C. (CBS CHARLOTTE) – The U.S. Supreme Court delayed a ruling in the Baby Veronica case that looks to define a “parent” under a law that protects Native American children.
The high court is likely to make a ruling tomorrow the hotly contested custody battle over 3-year-old Veronica, a girl with American Indian blood whom Matt and Melanie Capobianco — a James Island couple — tried to adopt at birth. The case centers on the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law aimed at placing American Indian children in foster or adoptive families who share their heritage.
The law arose in 1978 after advocates pointed out that a striking number of American Indian children were being placed outside their cultures, further diluting Native American societies.
Veronica’s biological father Dusten Brown, a Cherokee Indian, is currently protected under the law. But the Post and Courier reports that the American Indian makeup of Veronica’s blood was said to be only 3/256th, and she also shares Hispanic heritage with her mother, attorneys for the Capobiancos have said. They said that ICWA shouldn’t give rights to a father who has otherwise relinquished them under state laws.
“It’s typical that some of the most contentious and divided decisions will end up coming down to the wire at the end of June it happens almost every term,” Lori Alvino McGill, a Washington D.C. attorney representing Veronica’s biological mother, told News 4 Charleston.
“We get all wrapped up every time there is a decision day. There’s a lot of build up and let down when it turns out that the case hasn’t been issued yet,” said Alvino McGill.
Alvino McGill said she can only make assumptions as to what the waiting is like for the Capobianos.
“It’s heart wrenching, I’m sure for them as it is for Christy, because you know she feels so strongly that Veronica belongs with them,” said Alvino McGill.
The Supreme Court’s expected decision will determine whether Brown did enough as an unwed father, beyond biology to be able to veto the Capobianco’s adoption of Baby Veronica through ICWA.