By Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services/Arizona Daily Star
A federal judge on Friday questioned the legality of statutes that give tribal courts the right to decide adoption and foster-care placement of Native American children who have never lived on the reservation.
Judge Neil Wake said he is not questioning provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act that govern the children of reservation residents. And the lawsuit challenging the law brought by the Goldwater Institute does not challenge that.
“I question any legislation or legal precedent which shifts the focus from, or otherwise reduces the significance of, what is in a child’s best interest. I understand the arguments made about the preservation of the Native American culture. I understand the concept of sovereignty. I certainly respect and appreciate both of these ideologies from a general standpoint. But any situation involving dependency placement and custody should focus solely on what would be in the child’s best interest. Perhaps placement with a Native American family is what is best in a particular case. Perhaps it is not. The analysis should never, however, be restricted by bloodline.”
~ Kaine Fisher