Why is ICWA in jeopardy?

In 2017, individual plaintiffs Chad and Jennifer Brackeen, a couple from Texas, along with the state Attorneys General in Texas, Louisiana, and Indiana, sued the U.S. Department of the Interior and its now-former Secretary Ryan Zinke to challenge ICWA. The Morongo, Quinault, Oneida and Cherokee tribes intervened as defendants in the case Brackeen v. Bernhardt. In October 2018, A federal judge in the Northern District of Texas struck down much of ICWA. Defendants appealed the lower court’s decision and asked the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the decision.

In August 2019, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision and affirmed the constitutionality of ICWA. But the law remains at risk from continued legal threats. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in Haaland v. Brackeen on November 9, 2022.