Indian Country Today Media Network has confirmed that the legal team for Christinna Maldonado, the birth mother of “Baby Veronica” and lead plaintiff, has quietly dropped its class action suit, which sought to overturn portions of the Indian Child Welfare Act, contending it is “race-based” legislation.
The case, Maldonado et al v. Holder, in which the United States and the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma were also named as defendants, had been filed last July during the height of the legal firestorm in which Matt and Melanie Capobianco of James Island, South Carolina, were seeking custody of a Cherokee child they had named Veronica.
The United States Supreme Court had ruled in June 2013 that Veronica’s biological father, Dusten Brown, could not sue under ICWA because he did not have “continued” custody of the girl. The case made headlines around the world, though the little girl was eventually returned to live with the adoptive couple in South Carolina in September of last year.
Maldonado had initially remained quiet during the legal proceedings, but eventually joined the class action suit which included a dozen other women in filing the litigation in federal court in South Carolina. Their suit sought to declare the “Indian preference” under section 1915 of ICWA “unconstitutional,” because it “violated their civil rights to choose fit, stable adoptive parents for their birth children,” according to one of their attorneys.
But on January 27, the plaintiffs in the case quietly filed a voluntary motion for dismissal with the court, putting an end to one of the longest, most expensive and emotional custody cases in U.S. History.
“We are pleased Ms. Maldonado and the unnamed plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the suit,” said Chrissi Nimmo, assistant attorney general for the Cherokee Nation. “We never believed the suit had any merit and we were prepared to actively defend the suit had we ever been served.”
In the meantime, the Cherokee Nation and the attorneys for the plaintiffs in Adoptive Couple continue to await the decision on the demand fees totaling over $1 million in Nowata County Court in Oklahoma. Previously, they had publicized their work on behalf of the Capobiancos as “pro bono,” but sought compensation a week after the pre-schooler was returned to South Carolina. Their previous suit for fees in South Carolina totaled some $500,000, but was dropped late last year.
Since that time, the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux Tribes, along with another class action of parents in South Dakota, have sued the state in federal court over multiple violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act.'