U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear custody case

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the custody case of a Choctaw child who was placed with extended family in Utah under terms of the Indian Child Welfare Act, ending a years’ long effort by opponents to overturn the law designed to keep Indian children in Native American families.

Without comment, the court refused to hear an appeal of California court decisions that removed a child known as Lexi from a Santa Clarita foster family who had fought the law in an effort to adopt Lexi. She has been living with her Utah relatives since last Spring. California courts consistently held that the federal law should apply.

The Choctaw Nation is pleased that this lengthy and unnecessary litigation has been brought to an end by the U.S. Supreme Court. Lexi can remain where she belongs, with extended family that will raise her and a sister in the Choctaw tradition. The attorneys who brought the case to the high court made clear from the beginning their goal was not only to remove Lexi from her Utah family, but to overturn the Indian Child Welfare Act. They failed to do so, and the ICWA will continue to protect Native American children's rights to family and cultural connections.