COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina's highest court says it won't rehear a case involving a Charleston-area couple's attempts to adopt a girl of Cherokee heritage.
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday denied the requests from the 3-year-old's biological father and the Cherokee Nation.
With the backing of the U.S. Supreme Court, the South Carolina Supreme Court last week ordered a Family Court to finalize the adoption of 3-year-old Veronica by Matt and Melanie Capobianco.
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The girl has been living in Oklahoma since 2011, when South Carolina justices said federal law favored her being raised by her biological father, a member of the Cherokee Nation.
American Indian groups have said they would sue to protect Veronica's interests if the court denied the request. A spokeswoman for one of the groups did not immediately comment Wednesday.
In response to the ruling, Jacqueline Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians issued the following statement:
"The South Carolina Supreme Court has utterly failed to evaluate Veronica's current best interests in this case and confirmed our worst fears – when it comes to Veronica Brown, standard adoption procedures do not apply. Apparently, the Court believes that there is no need to require the family court to hold a formal and thoughtful hearing to determine what is in Veronica Brown's best interest. Like thousands of Native American children before her, Veronica now faces the prospect of being removed from her Cherokee family, without a formal consideration of her needs, her culture and her well-being. This is an alarming failure of the judicial system, and it represents a grave threat to all children in adoption proceedings, but most notably Native American children, who deserve all the legal protections, afforded any child in this nation."
"The National Congress of American Indians refuses to stand by as the rights of this child are violated. Together with the Native American Rights Fund and the National Indian Child Welfare Association we are preparing to file litigation in order to protect Veronica's civil rights. On behalf of all Native American children, we will pursue every legal option available to us to ensure that standard adoption procedures are upheld in this case."
"Let me add that I believe the South Carolina Supreme Court has shown willful disregard for the facts when it claims Dusten Brown has not been involved in the life of his daughter. On the contrary, Dusten Brown has gone to extensive lengths to maintain his family and to care for Veronica. The Court's willingness to ignore these facts and rush a resolution in this matter is deeply troubling. "