Brackeen v. Bernhardt

To prevent the unwarranted removal of Indian children from their families and tribes, Congress passed a law in 1978 permitting a child’s parents, a child’s custodian, and tribal authorities to intervene in state adoption proceedings, in some cases up to two years after a final adoption decree has been entered. The law also establishes placement preferences for foster care and adoptive proceedings that prioritize Indian families over non-Indian families. Non-Indian families: It violates equal protection to impose special adoption rules based on the race of a child. District court: Race-based classifications get strict scrutiny, and the gov’t hasn’t shown the law is sufficiently narrowly tailored. Fifth Circuit: The law relies on a political classification, not a racial one, and thus gets rational basis review, which it satisfies.

Tags: 2019, Equal Protection, Fifth Circuit, Rational Basis Test

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