Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law alumnus Brad Rideout (JD ’06) could be headed to the United States Supreme Court next year. Rideout and his firm, Rideout Law, recently filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari in the Supreme Court of the United States with help from the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute after receiving national support on a case in which a Native American father sought to terminate the parental rights of the mother of their children. The father and children are members of the Colorado River Indian Tribes.
The teenage children, whom Rideout has represented since 2012, alleged abuse and neglect by the mother, who is not a tribal member. The La Paz County Superior Court ruled in favor of the mother based on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), and the decision was affirmed by the Arizona Court of Appeals. Rideout’s petition to the Arizona Supreme Court to review the opinion of the Court of Appeals was denied earlier this year. The ICWA puts tribal courts in charge of custody decisions to avoid abuse by nontribal individuals and agencies. ICWA focuses on keeping Native American families together and requires a higher standard of proof for termination of rights. Although Rideout said he believes he has a strong enough case under state law to terminate the mother’s rights, ICWA requires additional measures.
“We’re really excited to be in a position to be able to help this family and others down the line, and to be on the right side on this issue,” he said. “There is not a lot of case law on this issue, and we have a great team that really understands dependency issues here in Arizona.”
The Goldwater Institute wrote an amicus brief in the Arizona Supreme Court case and now serves as co-counsel on the U.S. Supreme Court matter.
“Here you have a very well-known conservative group taking up an issue where everyone, from either side of the political spectrum, can agree that the victimizing of children is not right,” Rideout said. “I had no idea that this case would go this far when I picked it up.”