Adam Liptak at New York Times: Case Pits Adoptive Parents Against Tribal Rights

Family courts ordinarily base their decisions on the best interests of the child before them. But the 1978 law says other factors must be considered. “The tribe has an interest in the child which is distinct from but on a parity with the interest of the parents,” Justice William J. Brennan Jr., writing for himself, Justice Scalia and four other justices, explained in the 1989 decision, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield. This was, Justice Brennan added, “a relationship that many non-Indians find difficult to understand.”