Decision strikes key parts of Native American adoptions law

National News

FILE – Rosa Soto Alvarez, of Tucson,, holds a flag of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe as she and other Native Americans stand outside the federal appeals court in New Orleans, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. Parts of a federal law giving Native American families preference in the adoption of Native American children were effectively struck down Tuesday, April 6, 2021 by a sharply divided federal appeals court, a defeat for tribal leaders who said the 1978 law was important to protecting their families and culture. (AP Photo/Kevin McGill)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A divided federal appeals court’s has effectively struck down key parts of a law governing adoptions of Native American children.

Tuesday’s ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a lower court finding that the Indian Child Welfare Act’s preferences for Native American families in adoption cases are unconstitutional.

It also said some of the provisions of the law “unconstitutionally commandeer” state officials’ duties in adoption matters.

The 1978 law has long been championed by Native American leaders as a means of preserving Native American families and culture.

Opponents of the law include non-Native families who have tried to adopt American Indian children in emotional legal cases.

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