CHARLESTON, S.C. - The South Carolina Supreme Court denied Matt and Melanie Capobianco a request for rehearing in their custody case. The state's highest court ruled last month in favor of the Indian Child Welfare Act and affirmed that the couple's 2-year-old adoptive daughter remain in Oklahoma with her biological father Dusten Brown.
The request for the rehearing was the last possible legal step the Capobiancos could take regarding their case within South Carolina's jurisdiction. They have 90 days to appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
According to family friend, Jessica Munday, the couple continues to struggle with the court's decision. "There really are no words to describe the incredible heartbreak, disappointment and pain this family is feeling."
"The dissenting ruling from Justices Kittredge and Hearn says it all," states Munday. "It was clear the court had a very difficult time with this case. It's such a shame that Veronica's best interests had to take a backseat to the Cherokee Nation."
It is not known at this time if the family will appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
Only one Indian Child Welfare Act case has reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 1989's Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians vs. Holyfield that "the tribal court had exclusive jurisdiction over a private adoption even though the mother left the reservation to give birth to twins" and preferred that a non-Native couple raise her children.
In May, the Cherokee Nation petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review a U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling that the Indian Child Welfare Act did not apply to what a three-judge panel termed "temporary" tribal citizenship conferred solely for ICWA purposes. This case also involved a multiracial child and non-Native American adoptive parents. The U.S. Supreme Court denied the Cherokee Nation's request.
Veronica was removed from her Charleston home on New Year's Eve 2011 without any transition period despite repeated requests for one by the couple. The Capobiancos have had no contact with her since that time.
ABC News 4 will have more on this story as it develops.