Nowhere is the contrast between good tribal governance and failed state government more glaring than in the federal lawsuit over the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act. In Texas, the state child foster care system is a human rights calamity, where the physical, sexual, and emotional abuse of children is the norm. The state’s response was not to take responsibility, but to challenge the constitutionality of the ICWA. Texas now faces $75,000 daily in contempt of court sanctions as a result of its continued failure to reform the child welfare system.
The Texas case is not really about child welfare; the state’s own child welfare agency “fully supports” the ICWA, as it stated in its 2015 comments submitted in response to the proposed federal ICWA regulations. The suit is pure political theater. Accepting Texas’s challenge, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, recently struck down several parts of the ICWA as violative of states’ rights.