Lawsuit filed on behalf of Baby Veronica's civil rights

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Updated: 7/31/2013 3:52 pm Published: 7/31/2013 3:45 pm

The Native American Rights Fund filed a complaint in the United States District Court in South Carolina to protect the civil rights of Veronica Brown, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

The filing claims Brown has been denied due process in the South Carolina courts.

The filing comes after the South Carolina Supreme Court issued two orders to the state’s family court on July 17 and 24, calling for the removal of Veronica from her father and a transfer her to the adoptive couple without a hearing of best interest.

The litigation was filed by Angel Smith, an attorney appointed as counsel for the child by the courts of the Cherokee Nation, in U.S. District Court in South Carolina, and asks the Court to determine whether Veronica has a constitutionally protected right to a meaningful hearing in the state courts to determine what is in her best interests.

FOX23 received the following statement from Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes in support of this lawsuit:
Cherokee Nation Chief Bill John Baker, President of Inter-Tribal,
Muscogee Creek Nation Chief George Tiger,
Choctaw Nation Chief Greg Pyle,
Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby, and
Seminole Nation Chief Leonard Harjo

"We stand today representing our five nations and joining with sovereign Indian nations across the United States and multiple national Native American organizations in support of the civil rights lawsuit filed in South Carolina on behalf of Veronica Brown, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. On July 17, 2013, the South Carolina Supreme Court ignored the child's and the Brown family's right to due process when it ordered the finalization of Veronica's adoption by non-Indian parents and her removal from her biological Cherokee father and Cherokee family.

"The South Carolina Supreme Court's order flies in the face of its previous determination and the U.S. Supreme Court. As elected leaders of sovereign tribal governments, we are outraged by the actions taken by the South Carolina Supreme Court. The reckless order to rush Veronica's adoption will negatively impact Native children and family preservation efforts nationwide. Most importantly, though, it will take a happy and well-adjusted child from the only family she knows: her father, sister, stepmother, extended family, tribe, community and culture.

"A severe injustice has been committed to an innocent Cherokee child and her loving family in Oklahoma. The Brown family, including Veronica, deserves their due process. They do not deserve to have their lives forever transformed by the South Carolina judicial system without cause or consideration.

"Indian children being removed from their families and homes is not a new story in Indian Country. Those dark days have reared their head again sadly in South Carolina. We will stand with Veronica, the Browns, and national tribal organizations fighting for fairness and justice."

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