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Cherokee Nation To Appeal Decision Striking Down Native American Adoption Law

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (CBSNEWS.COM) - The Cherokee Nation is planning to appeal a decision last week that struck down a law governing the adoptions of Native American children, according to Cherokee Nation Deputy Attorney General Chrissi Ross Nimmo. The law, which was meant to keep the children within Native American families, was deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge in Texas.

Cherokee Nation
Nelson Wallulatum, a chief of the Wascopum tribe in Oregon, is led on a wheelchair during the grand opening of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian 21 September 2004 in Washington, DC. (credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor, in an Oct 4 ruling, found that the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) illegally gives Native American families preferential treatment in adoption proceedings for Native American children based on race.

The ruling found that the law was in violation of the Fifth Amendment's equal protection guarantee.

O'Connor ruled that the law violated the 10th Amendment's federalism guarantees, including the''anti-commandeering'' principle that was established by the Supreme Court, most recently in a 2018 sports gambling case that bars Congress from ''commanding'' states to modify their laws.

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