Baby Veronica case remains undecided; SCOTUS reconvenes Tuesday

Baby Veronica case remains undecided; SCOTUS reconvenes Tuesday

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The waiting game remains for the two opposing sides in the Baby Veronica custody case as the Supreme Court of the United States again postponed a ruling.

Monday was the last scheduled day for SCOTUS to deliver rulings, but the high court will reconvene on Tuesday at 10 a.m.

The battle for Baby Veronica focuses on the definition of a 'parent' under a federal law enacted in 1978 to protect Indian families.

The focal point of the arguments between representatives of Veronica's adoptive parents and her biological father focused on whether her father was a "parent" according to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

"It was tough, it's intense," said Jessica Munday, a supporter of Veronica's adoptive parents. "It's been a very difficult and emotional journey."

The journey reached the home stretch Tuesday in front of nine Supreme Court justices.

Three main questions are in need of answers to correctly rule on the case. First, justices have to decide whether Dusten Brown, Veronica's biological father, is a "parent" under ICWA. Second, does ICWA apply only when there is an existing family? Third, is ICWA constitutional?

The Cherokee Nation says the importance of ICWA, enacted in 1978, is straight forward.

Representatives of the Cherokee Nation say "without members, a Tribe ceases to exist... ICWA seeks to protect the rights of the Indian child as an Indian and the rights of the Indian community and tribe in retaining its children in society."

According to court documents, in the early 1970's 'experts estimated that 25% to 35% of all Indian children had been separated from their families and placed in adoptive families, foster care or institutions.'

ICWA was a law designed to allow Tribe's to 'survive.'

Veronica's biological father Dusten Brown, a Cherokee Indian, is currently protected under the law.

According to Court documents Brown is 3/128ths Cherokee Indian.

Veronica's adoptive parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco of James Island, argue he does not qualify as a 'parent' under ICWA and the laws' protections don't allow him rights to Veronica.

Baby Veronica was ordered from her adoptive home with the Capobianco's on James Island on New Year's Day 2011 and returned to her biological father, Dusten Brown.

At that time, a brief drafted by Lisa Blatt and Mark Fiddler for the Capobianco's says there are three victims in this case, 'the Baby Girl, the Birth Mother and Veronica's adoptive parents.

The ruling to return Veronica to Brown was handed down by the South Carolina Family Court after a four-day hearing. The court heard testimonies from all parents interested and awarded custody of Veronica to Brown under ICWA.

In July of 2012, the South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the family court decision.