The U.S. Supreme Court is pushing South Carolina courts to quickly take up a custody case that will decide whether a Native American girl's life will be with her biological father in Oklahoma or the South Carolina couple who adopted her.
A divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that federal law doesn't require that the girl named Veronica stay with her biological father, but also doesn't give her adoptive parents immediate custody of the now 3-year-old child.
The high court issued an order Friday speeding up the case being sent back to South Carolina's Supreme Court.
Melanie and Matt Capobianco of James Island had lost in South Carolina courts before the nation's highest court ruled the Indian Child Welfare Act didn't apply because the biological father never had custody of the child and abandoned her before birth.
Dusten Brown, a member of the Cherokee Nation, invoked the federal law to stop the adoption arranged by the girl's non-Indian mother when she was pregnant. The Capobiancos were was present at Veronica's birth in Oklahoma. Brown had never met his daughter and, after the mother rebuffed his marriage proposal, played no role during the pregnancy and paid no child support after Veronica was born.
But when Brown found out Veronica was going to be adopted, he objected and said the law favored the girl living with him and growing up with tribal traditions.
South Carolina courts sent Veronica back to Oklahoma at the end of 2011, even though she had lived with the Capobiancos for the first 27 months of her life.