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updated: 6/25/2013 10:50 AM

Court: Child isn't required to go to father

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Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court says a Native American child doesn't have to be taken away from her adoptive parents and given to her biological father.

The justices ruled 5-4 Tuesday in a case about a federal law intended to keep Indian children from being taken from their homes and typically placed with non-Indian adoptive or foster parents.

South Carolina courts said the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act favored the biological father of the girl. The South Carolina couple who raised her for the first 27 months of her life appealed that decision.

State courts have been at odds on the law's application but justices said a ruling giving the father a "trump card at the eleventh hour" to get the girl might not be in the child's best interest.

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