New Orleans was already setting up bleachers in preparation for next month’s Mardi Gras, the great bacchanal that has come to define the city.
The atmosphere in the inner recesses of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit building located near the French Quarter, Mardi Gras party central, however, could not have been more incongruous.
The battle over the constitutionality of the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act played out in a small, austere court room in the heart of the Big Easy. But there was nothing easy about the case.
The outcome of the hearing has far reaching implications for Indian Country beyond child welfare; if the Indian Child Welfare Act is found to be unconstitutional, it could undermine the entirety of American Indian law.