Nation's Leading Tribal Organizations Prepare to File Lawsuit to Protect "Baby Veronica's" Civil Rights

Jul 22, 2013, 18:55 ET from National Congress of American Indians

Announcement Comes as Dusten Brown and Cherokee Nation File Appeal with South Carolina Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, July 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Attorneys for Dusten Brown and the Cherokee Nation filed their appeals with the South Carolina Supreme Court today, objecting to the Court's July 17 order to the state's family court calling for an expedited transfer of custody to the South Carolina-based adoptive couple without a hearing of best interest for Veronica Brown.  

It is standard procedure in adoption proceedings to have a hearing to determine the best interest of the child in advance of any transfer proceedings, an essential step the South Carolina Supreme Court failed to take, thus denying Veronica the right to have her best interests considered.

Unless the South Carolina Supreme Court amends its earlier ruling and orders a meaningful best interest hearing, the nation's leading tribal organizations believe that Veronica Brown is being denied her due process rights.  As such, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), and National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) announced today their intention to file civil rights litigation.

"When it comes to adoption proceedings, every court in this country has a legal obligation to put the best interests of a child first – every time, no matter the race of the child. This did not happen here. The South Carolina Court's order represents a perilous prospect for not only Veronica, but any child involved in a custody proceeding in this country," said Jacqueline Pata, Executive Director of NCAI.  "In a rush to judgment, the South Carolina Supreme Court ordered Veronica to be removed from her biological father without any consideration for her best interests.  The decision contributes to the long and sordid history of Native American children being removed from their families without any consideration of their best interests. The National Congress of American Indians refuses to stand by as the rights of this child are violated."

For more information about today's commitment by the organizations to pursue a civil rights lawsuit for Baby Veronica, read the full press release.

SOURCE National Congress of American Indians