Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Friday, September 13, 2013

Baby Veronica

I spoke today on the Baby Veronica case (at Akron Law’s program, Supreme Court Review).  In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court, 5-4, decided that a Native American father was not entitled to the presumption of child custody under the Indiana Child Welfare Act because he had never had actual custody of his daughter.  Mom gave the child up for adoption at birth and the baby lived “temporarily” with the putative adoptive parents while Dad served in Afghanistan.  Following the ruling, the state court immediately awarded custody to the white adoptive parents, without the usual best interests hearing. Dad has refused to relinquish custody.  Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin ordered his extradition to South Carolina for the felony charges of interference with parental rights, saying that “as a Mother” she wanted a permanent resolution for the little girl. 

 I was struck by the fact that all 3 women on the Court supported Dad in this case.  The women’s rights question seems weirdly skewed here. For an interesting perspective on why feminists should support Dad in this case, see Laura Briggs, The Feminist Defense of Baby Veronica's Dad and ICWA and and Why Feminists Should Care about the Baby Veronica CaseWhy Feminists Should Care About the Baby Veronica Case.

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