The Supreme Court yesterday issued an invitation to the United States to file an amicus curiae brief in a case involving the federal Indian Child Welfare Act.  The issue in the case — In re Abbigail A. — is whether rules 5.482(c) and 5.484(c)(2) of the California Rules of Court conflict with Welfare and Institutions Code section 224.1, subdivision (a), by requiring the juvenile court to apply the provision of the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq.) to a child found by a tribe to be eligible for tribal membership if the child has not yet obtained formal enrollment.  The issue about which the court would like the federal government’s opinion is whether those court rules are preempted to the extent they purport to require California courts to apply the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq.) (ICWA) in child custody proceedings involving a minor who is not an “Indian child” as defined in ICWA.  (See 25 U.S.C. § 1903(4); cf. id., §§ 1902 & 1921.)

The Supreme Court solicits amicus briefs occasionally.  When it does so, as in Abbigail A., it usually addresses the request to a governmental entity, like when it asked for a brief from the state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement about suitable employee seating regulations or when it asked the United States to chime in about the effect of federal law on whether to grant a law license to an undocumented immigrant.