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As expected, BLAG intervenes in military veteran’s challenge to DOMA

DOMA trials

By Scottie Thomaston

h/t Kathleen for these documents

We reported last week that the Republican-led House would be intervening to defend DOMA against a challenge from a married military veteran with multiple sclerosis, likely as a result of her service to the country. The case is Cooper-Harris v. USA.The filing was expected on April 2, and it showed up on that date.

As the filing suggests, BLAG will intervene while at the same time requesting a stay of the proceedings in this case. They are requesting the stay pending resolution in at least one of two other cases dealing with the issue of DOMA, Golinski v. OPM and Torres- Barragan v. Holder, et al (an immigration-related DOMA challenge). The plaintiffs challenging the law will object to the stay of proceedings in their case.

While reserving the right to challenge BLAG’s intervention, in the plaintiffs’ response to the motion to intervene, plaintiffs note that BLAG’s intervention to defend a separate federal law relating to military spousal benefits likely falls outside the scope of their original resolution to intervene in DOMA cases to defend against challenges to Section 3 of DOMA. They point out that no formal vote was taken by BLAG to decide to defend this law against challenges and that House Representatives Pelosi and Hoyer have challenged this authority as well.

The scheduling order is here, and looks like this:

1) April 10: Plaintiffs and defendants’ briefs in response to House/BLAG’s motion to intervene
2) April 17: House/BLAG’s response brief
3) April 30 [or seven days after motion to intervene is granted]: House/BLAG motion to stay proceedings is due
4) Within three weeks, plaintiffs’ response to motion to stay is due.
5) Any reply is due within two weeks of that.

If the court denies the motion to stay proceedings the parties will meet with the judge within fourteen days.

UPDATE (4/11): Courtesy of Kathleen, here is the Department of Justice’s response brief to BLAG’s motion to intervene.  As in its other briefs, the Department notes that it does not consider BLAG to have independent standing in the case, but that the Department’s decision to remain a party to the suit makes that a moot issue.


  • 1. Str8Grandmother  |  April 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    It's really shameful that this Veteran has to start a Court Case to get equal benefits to heterosexual couples. I was really pleased to see The Southern Poverty Law Center sponsor the case. They have really stepped up to the Mission of their organization.

  • 2. Mormon Mother  |  April 9, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    So how much tax payer money has BLAG spent so far to defend the defenseless? I sure wish there was a way to limit their spending. All of that money could go to such a better use.

  • 3. Daniel  |  April 10, 2012 at 5:35 am

    actually their spending has been capped…at least for now it has been capped. I'm hopeful the diluge of suits that seem to be taking place these past few days are two fold—create equality and exhaust the funds that have been set aside to defend DOMA. I know they'll get more $ but right now…it is limited. Seems like we're spinning our wheels here.

  • 4. _BK_  |  April 10, 2012 at 8:25 am


    This stuff is so sad. Is there any way for this post to be removed?

  • 5. Seth from Maryland  |  April 10, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Lambda Legal Files Federal Lawsuit Seeking Marriage Equality in Nevada

  • 6. Jacob Combs  |  April 10, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Deleted! Thanks for reporting, guys.

  • 7. Phillip K  |  April 10, 2012 at 10:12 am

    This whole situation is so sad from many different perspectives.

    We have to exhaust funds to move through the courts. The government is exhausting funds (and clearly there's a divide on that) to attempt to protect DOMA. The lawsuits are just going to continually pop up until a more definitive decision is made.

    All that money that could be more effectively used for the good of all Americans instead of worrying about what goes on in other peoples' relationships. If you don't like marriage equality for gays then don't get married to someone of the same sex. Just ridiculous.

  • 8. Jamie  |  April 10, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    No, the existing contract with the lawyers has a cap. They can't bill beyond the cap until it's raised. Which is easy to do. Spending isn't capped. They will burn through $1.5 million, they'll raise the cap to $3 million, they'll burn through that, and they'll raise the cap to $5 million…

  • 9. SHOES THROWER  |  July 21, 2012 at 10:20 am

    If I remember correctly, the district court in Torres-Barragan had upheld DOMA.

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