By KEVIN McGILL Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A divided federal appeals court’s has effectively struck down key parts of a law governing adoptions of Native American children. Tuesday’s ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a lower court finding that the Indian Child Welfare Act’s preferences for Native American families in adoption cases are unconstitutional. It also said some of the provisions of the law “unconstitutionally commandeer” state officials’ duties in adoption matters. The 1978 law has long been championed by Native American leaders as a means of preserving Native American families and culture. Opponents of the law include non-Native families who have tried to adopt American Indian children in emotional legal cases.