Guardian ad Litem in Baby Veronica case files petition with U.S. Supreme Court


CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The guardian ad litem for a 3-year-old little girl caught in the middle of a custody battle has filed a brief to the United States Supreme Court in support of the toddler's adoptive parents, asking the high court to hear the case. The brief was filed by Paul Clement of Washington, DC and Thomas Lowndes of Charleston, SC. Clement served as the U.S. Solicitor General from 2005-2008 and has argued more than 60 cases in the U.S. Supreme Court. Lowndes has practiced adoption law for more than 40 years and is a founding member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.

The brief states the child's guardian, "exhaustively considered the child's best interests and concluded that they clearly would be served by allowing her adoptive parents to retain custody."

It continues by stating that under the South Carolina Supreme Court's interpretation of the Indian Child Welfare Act, the child's best interests were overridden by a federal law. Clements and Lowndes ask the Supreme Court to determine "whether the Indian Child Welfare Act operates to block adoption proceedings voluntarily initiated by a non-Indian mother who has sole custody of her child due to the Indian father's failure to establish a legal parent-child relationship with the child under state law."

Matt and Melanie Capobianco of Charleston, SC began the process of adopting Veronica at birth in September 2009. After caring for her for more than two years, they lost custody to the toddler's biological father in Dec. 2011. On October 1, they filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of regaining custody of their child.

Just days after Christmas, the couple was ordered by a South Carolina court to hand over Veronica to her biological father, whom the child had never met. Dusten Brown, the child's birth father, gained custody based on the lower court's interpretation of a federal law known as the Indian Child Welfare Act. He is a member of the Cherokee Nation.

The Capobiancos are represented in the Supreme Court by Lisa Blatt of{}Washington,{}D.C., and Mark Fiddler of{}Minneapolis, Minn.