Native Amicus Briefing Project


Posted on April 16, 2013

Lindsay Hart attorney Katie Eichner was recently named a founding board member for the Native Amicus Briefing Project (NABP). NABP intends to act as amicus curiae with a special interest in Indian Law. Amicus curiae is Latin for “friend of the court” and is a person or organization, not party to a lawsuit, with a strong interest in the issue a lawsuit presents. An amicus brief is typically filed to educate and raise awareness about an aspect of the case that the parties may not have sufficient time or space to address. Amicus briefs are most common in special interest cases.

NABP was formed to foster the understanding of American Indian law and policy in federal courts. It aims to raise awareness about tribal sovereignty and potential legal implications of courts’ decisions in cases involving Indian and Tribal Law.

NABP is an open-source, collaborative project which provides amicus briefing support from volunteers. These volunteers are attorneys, board members, law students, and Indian Law practitioners from all over the United States.

NABP’s most recent project was an opportunity to edit several amicus briefs in the case of “Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl.” This South Carolina adoption case involves an infant who was given up by her mother at birth. The mother, who is not a tribal member, signed away her rights to the child and indicated the father did the same. The child’s father, a member of the Cherokee Nation, filed for a stay of adoption and full custody once he learned of the impending adoption. Because of the father’s tribal affiliation, the child is considered to be an “Indian Child” under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a federal law which seeks to keep American Indian children with American Indian families. ICWA was passed after a history of abusive child welfare practices involving American Indian children. This federal law mandated the adoptive couple to return the child to her birth father. The adoptive couple then filed a petition for certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court which was granted on January 4, 2013.

NABP helped edit several amicus briefs filed on behalf of respondent Birth Father. NABP is honored to have played a small roll in a much larger collaborative effort by tireless Indian Country advocates to protect ICWA. The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral argument on the case today, April 16, 2013.

For more information on the NABP, please visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nativeamicusbriefingproject