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Haaland v. Brackeen and the Logic of Federal Indian Law by Dan Lewerenz

In June 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Haaland v. Brackeen, affirming the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (“ICWA”), which the plaintiffs had alleged violated several sections of the U.S. Constitution. Because of the breadth of the plaintiffs’ challenge, Brackeen was seen as the most consequential—and potentially the most devastating—Indian law case in a century or more. But the Court’s decision revealed that the plaintiffs’ arguments were unsound from the beginning, because they were based on faulty premises. Professor Lewerenz (Kansas State (Philosophy) ’96), who coordinated the pro-ICWA briefing strategy in Brackeen, will explain why the plaintiffs’ arguments were doomed by their own flawed assumptions about the scope of Congressional power in Indian affairs, and about the federal-state division of authority in child welfare law. Professor Lewerenz also will address the two constitutional challenges the Court did not reach, one of which is similarly unsound, and the other suffers from a different rhetorical flaw. In doing so, Professor Lewerenz will discuss the background of the Indian Child Welfare Act and the Brackeen litigation, and where Indian child welfare policy goes after Brackeen.

Friday, November 3, 2023 at 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Dickens Hall, 207 1116 MidCampus Dr N 207 Dicken