U.S. Supreme Court reverses S.C. court in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, siding with James Island couple

Court rules on "Baby Veronica"

Posted by Sam Spence on Tue, Jun 25, 2013 at 11:10 AM

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  • File Illustration by Doris Howard

In a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court today issued a ruling in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, reversing the South Carolina Supreme Court's decision, a ruling favorable for adoptive parents Matt and Melanie Capobianco of James Island. The "Baby Veronica" case, which has captured national attention since it was argued in April, centers around the now three-and-a-half-year old toddler, her birth father, and the Capobiancos, who originally tried to adopt Veronica as a newborn in 2009. The South Carolina Supreme Court ordered her returned to her birth father in late 2011 after he challenged the adoption under the Indian Child Welfare Act.

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The opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, rules that assertions made by the South Carolina Supreme Court don't apply in the specific case of Adoptive Couple, saying that action by the S.C. court that resulted in Veronica being "taken, at the age of 27 months, from the only parents she had ever known" under the federal ICWA, "do not demand this result."

Writing for the Court, Alito says examination of the case using other provisions of the ICWA were inapplicable, and that an argument that the Capobianco's adoption was an attempt to "breakup" her birth father Dusten Brown's Native American family (as defined by the ICWA) is insubstantial since Brown "abandoned" Veronica before her birth.

It's not immediately clear what's next for Veronica, who is living with her father in Oklahoma, though in her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor notes that Veronica's return is "not foreordained, of course." She continues, "But it can be said with certainty that the anguish this case has caused will only be compounded by today's decision."

We'll have more on the case as more details are available.

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Good luck getting her back, people. If the father to whom she was born has any sense, he'll hop on the Snowden Express down old South America way.

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Posted by Ron Liberte on June 25, 2013 at 11:32 AM

I just feel for the little girl. I understand how the adoptive parents raised her until she was two, but shes been living with her father for the last two years. Now shes going to be yanked away from him...im sure she doesn't even remember her adopt parents...nobody remembers being two years old...screwed up situation all around.

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Posted by suuuper on June 25, 2013 at 7:43 PM

A three year old remembers being two. She was taken away from her mother that raised her from birth. You cant right that pain but you can let her have her mom and dad back.

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Posted by logical lu on June 26, 2013 at 1:05 AM
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