Lawyering the Indian Child Welfare Act

44 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2021 Last revised: 4 Aug 2022

See all articles by Matthew L. M. Fletcher

Matthew L. M. Fletcher

University of Michigan Law School

Wenona T. Singel

Michigan State University College of Law

Date Written: October 20, 2021

Abstract

This Essay describes how the statutory structure of child welfare laws enables lawyers and courts to exploit deep-seated stereotypes about American Indian people rooted in systemic racism to undermine the enforcement of the rights of Indian families and tribes. Even where Indian custodians and tribes are able to protect their rights in court, their adversaries use those same advantages on appeal to attack the Constitutional validity of the law. The primary goal of this Essay is to help expose those structural issues and the ethically troublesome practices of adoption attorneys as the most important ICWA case in history, Brackeen v. Haaland, reaches the Supreme Court.

Keywords: Brackeen v. Haaland, Indian Child Welfare Act, professional responsibility, legal ethics, Supreme Court, anti-commandeering, equal protection

Suggested Citation

Fletcher, Matthew L. M. and Singel, Wenona T., Lawyering the Indian Child Welfare Act (October 20, 2021). Michigan Law Review, Vol. 120, No. 8, 2022 (Forthcoming), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3946588

Matthew L. M. Fletcher (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://michigan.law.umich.edu/faculty-and-scholarship/our-faculty/matthew-lm-fletcher

Wenona T. Singel

Michigan State University College of Law ( email )

318 Law College Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300
United States

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