South Carolina Supreme Court Denies Rehearing Custody Case

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A Cherokee father will retain custody of his 2-year-old daughter, following a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling.

A Cherokee father will retain custody of his 2-year-old daughter, following a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling. The state’s highest court denied the plaintiff’s request to rehear a case challenging the Indian Child Welfare Act. (27148 - Adoptive Couple v. Cherokee Nation)

In July, the justices ruled that the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law designed to keep Native American children with their tribes, supersedes state adoption laws. In a one-sentence order yesterday, the court ruled in a 3-2 decision to deny a request for rehearing the case. This brings the three-year-old case to a close in the South Carolina courts.

“Cherokee Nation is pleased that the South Carolina Supreme Court has upheld the family court’s decision to return the child to her father,” Cherokee Nation Assistant Attorney General Chrissi Ross Nimmo said. “We are proud of our role in the reunification process.”

The Adoptive Couple vs. Baby Girl, Birth Father and Cherokee Nation case stems from a baby born in Oklahoma to unwed parents. The father, a Cherokee Nation citizen who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, was unaware the mother had put the baby up for adoption until after she was adopted by a South Carolina couple who has since sued to keep the child.

“We humbly request that the family’s privacy be respected as they attempt to make up for lost time and settle into a normal life,” Nimmo said.

The Cherokee Nation will not release the identity of the father or child.

About Cherokee Nation
The Cherokee Nation is the federally recognized government of the Cherokee people and has inherent sovereign status recognized by treaty and law. The seat of tribal government is the W.W. Keeler Complex near Tahlequah, Okla., the capital of the Cherokee Nation. With more than 300,000 citizens, over 8,000 employees and a variety of tribal enterprises ranging from aerospace and defense contracts to entertainment venues, Cherokee Nation is one of the largest employers in northeastern Oklahoma and the largest tribal nation in the United States. To learn more, please visit

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