July 16, 2012
By Scottie Thomaston
Today, Edith Windsor, the 83 year old widow who is the plaintiff in Windsor v. USA (filed by the ACLU and the NYCLU), petitioned the Supreme Court for certiorari, asking them to review her challenge. The Supreme Court has already received petitions in two other cases – Golinski v. OPM and Gill v. OPM/Massachusetts v. HHS, with both the DOJ and the House Republicans, through the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) petitioning for review in the latter case.
Via the Huffington Post, which first reported the story:
Roberta Kaplan, Windsor’s lawyer, said that Monday’s petition to speed the lawsuit’s movement through the courts was due in part to her client’s age and health. Windsor has a heart condition, and on June 13, after the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group filed a notice of appeal, Windsor filed a motion to expedite the latest appeal, citing her poor health and a desire to “see the constitutional claim of her spouse’s estate resolved during her lifetime.”
In the petition to the court, the lawyers argued that the case is a straightforward example of how DOMA financially impacts married same-sex couples.
Windsor’s case has been decided at the district court level, where Section 3 of DOMA was struck down as unconstitutional. It is on appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Like the Justice Department’s petition in Golinski, there is not yet a decision by an appeals court in Windsor.
The Huffington Post spoke to Windsor:
Windsor said she was thrilled about how wide-reaching the implications of her case could be for other same-sex couples. But her first reaction was, “I need to tell Thea immediately,” she recalled. “So I walked around, looking at the pictures and I said, ‘Oh honey, look what’s happening.'”
When the Supreme Court begins its term with its first conference on September 24, it will take up these petitions, likely that week or the beginning of October.
UPDATE: Geidner has more:
The ACLU’s move marks a major step in the ongoing question of whether, how and when the Supreme Court might take the high-stakes case. The ACLU’s writ of certiorari is the fourth such petition filed in the past three weeks. The ACLU’s move also brings to the foreground a legal question the Administration has sought to avoid: Whether DOMA should be struck down as unconstitutional even if not subjected to the same “heightened scrutiny” that applies to cases involving race and sex.
In today’s filing, the ACLU argues that the case presents “a question of exceptional national importance,” stating, “DOMA has been held unconstitutional by federal courts in three circuits. The Government has declined to defend its constitutionality, but continues to enforce the statute pending resolution by this Court. Thus, individuals like [Windsor] continue to suffer serious consequences from the Government’s failure to recognize their lawfully solemnized marriages.”
Image courtesy of Freedom to Marry