U.S. Supreme Court sets date for Veronica custody case


The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the arguments on April 16 in the case of a James Island couple seeking to overturn a ruling that returned their adoptive daughter to her biological father under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act.

The case involving 3-year-old Veronica is one of two scheduled to go before the high court that day, according to the Supreme Court of the United States blog.

An attorney for Matt and Melanie Capobianco filed their 142-page petition with the high court in October, arguing that the justices should accept the case to settle uncertainty over how the 1978 act should be interpreted.

The Capobiancos have not seen Veronica since a family court ruling relinquished the girl to her father on New Year’s Eve of 2011.

The S.C. Supreme Court in July upheld Veronica’s return to her biological father in Oklahoma. Her father, a member of the Cherokee Nation, successfully challenged the adoption using the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law aimed at preserving American Indian families.

The federal law has been reviewed only once at the highest level. In 1989, Justice William Brennan sided with Mississippi’s Choctaw tribe, which challenged an adoption of twins.

Before Veronica was born in September 2009 in Oklahoma, her biological parents canceled their engagement and went separate ways. The Capobiancos met Veronica’s mother through an adoption agency and were with her since birth.

Veronica’s biological father, Dusten Brown, sought custody of the girl after learning of the Capobianco plans to adopt her in January 2010.

Though Brown did not support the girl’s mother during pregnancy, his rights as a parent should not be stripped, the S.C. Supreme Court confirmed in its July ruling.

Since her return to Oklahoma, Veronica has been given the name “Little Star” by the Cherokee and has attended stomp dances and other Native American rituals with her father and others to introduce her to her culture, Brown’s attorney, Shannon Jones, has said.

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