Doe v. Piper

Case No. 15-cv-02639 (2015)

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Doe v. Piper

United States District Court for the District of Minnesota
Case No. 15-cv-02639 (2015)

Facts

[Editor’s Note: The casebook provides an excerpt of the plaintiffs’ complaint and therefore a reflection of the plaintiffs’ view of the facts and arguments in the case.] The Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA) applied to voluntary and involuntary adoptions and required notice of custody proceedings to be given to an Indian child’s tribe. The tribe had the right to intervene in the proceedings and access adoption documents that contained information that was otherwise confidential. MIFPA defined an Indian child as an unmarried person under the age of 18 who was a member of a tribe or eligible for membership in a tribe. John and Jane Doe (the Does) (plaintiffs) were enrolled in the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe (the band) in Minnesota. The Does had a baby, Baby Doe, but the Does kept Baby Doe’s birth a secret from their families. Baby Doe was eligible for membership in the band. The Does decided to enter into a voluntary-adoption arrangement with a non-Indian family. The Does argued that MIFPA impermissibly gave tribes the right to interfere with private, voluntary adoptions and to access information that was deeply personal and private, such as the birth parents’ medical and criminal history. The Does did not want the band to learn about Baby Doe and his adoption because of the embarrassment and pressure the Does would face. The Does argued that they had a due-process privacy right in the extensive information contained in Baby Doe’s adoption file, that MIFPA deprived the Does of their rights under the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause, and that the statutory interference was not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning ()

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