The hearing was scheduled to last 35 minutes, but the oral arguments went on for an hour and a half at the South Carolina Supreme Court.I've blogged about the ICWA issues in this case, basically the 'existing Indian family doctrine,' here. I thought it was interesting what the spokesperson for the adoptive family said about why the Cherokee Nation isn't really interested in this child: "She's more Latino than anything else." [Her mother is Latina, her father is American Indian]. Again, as I pointed out in the post about the existing Indian family doctrine, we have white people deciding what it means to be Indian. . . .
With the public barred from attending, and both sides under a strict gag order, nobody who was in the room Tuesday can talk about what happened.
But outside the courthouse, observers assumed that the length of the hearing meant the justices had asked a lot of questions - a sign of how complex the "Baby Veronica" case has become.
A couple from James Island, S.C., a suburb of Charleston, adopted Veronica in 2009 from an Oklahoma mother.
The birth father, however, won a court order to have the child returned to Oklahoma, where she now lives with him in Nowata.
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The case could have national ramifications because it revolves around the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law that was meant to help keep Indian children within a tribe.
The Cherokee Nation participated in this week's hearing in South Carolina, but tribal officials fall under the gag order and won't comment on the case.
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The state Supreme Court promised to expedite the case, with a decision expected within 30 days.
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