ICWA and the Commerce Clause
Matthew L. M. Fletcher
Michigan State University College of Law
The Indian Child Welfare Act at 30: Facing the Future, Matthew L.M. Fletcher & Wenona T. Singel, eds., Michigan State University Press, 2008
MSU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 04-25
Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act, it said, in accordance with its authority under the Indian Commerce Clause and because it has assumed responsibility over Indian affairs. But under the line of cases developed by the Rehnquist Court, the Court takes a very dim view of Congressional authority under the Commerce Clause, while resurrecting the Tenth Amendment from its stasis as a "truism." At least one Justice asserts that there is nothing in the Constitution that authorizes Congress to assume authority over Indian affairs to the exclusion of the Executive branch or the states. This paper argues that, despite the Court's recent Commerce Clause jurisprudence, Congress had sufficient authority to enact the Indian Child Welfare Act. The intent of the paper is to present the strongest case for the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act as a matter of the original understanding of the Indian Commerce Clause.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 22
Date posted: April 3, 2007 ; Last revised: January 26, 2016