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Breaking: plaintiffs in Connecticut DOMA case file petition seeking Supreme Court review

DOMA trials Pedersen

By Jacob Combs

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) today asked the Supreme Court to review a lower court decision in the case of Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management, in which a district court judge struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional.  In her powerful ruling, Judge Vanessa Bryant, a George W. Bush appointee, took apart each proffered defense of DOMA in detail, arguing, “Having considered the purported rational bases proffered by both BLAG and Congress and concluded that such objectives bear no rational relationship to Section 3 of DOMA as a legislative scheme, the Court finds that no conceivable rational basis exists for the provision [DOMA].”

While Judge Bryant’s decision sets up the case for a hearing in the Second Circuit Court of Appeal (where another lower court decision striking down DOMA in the case of Windsor v. USA is also on appeal), GLAD’s filing today asks the Supreme Court to take up the case directly, allowing it to skip the intermediate appellate review stage.  Pedersen now joins Windsor and another district court decision from California (Golinski v. OPM) in petitioning the Supreme Court before an appeals court has ruled on the issue; another case, Massachusetts v. HHS, was argued before the First Circuit Court of Appeal, which issued an unanimous decision striking DOMA down.  In their press release today, GLAD highlighted several reasons in its decision to petition the Supreme Court directly in Pedersen:

Among the arguments GLAD makes in petitioning the Supreme Court for immediate review in Pedersen are:

  •  the case raises a question of national importance;
  • continued delay exacerbates the stigma and economic burdens on plaintiffs’ families and children;
  • Congress has no legitimate interest in overriding state marriage policies where states license marriages and not the federal government;
  • there is a practical need for a Supreme Court decision as there are conflicting decisions on DOMA’s constitutionality in various federal courts and additional challenges are pending;
  • the Obama Administration is not defending the law in court but is still enforcing it, resulting in ever more lawsuits against DOMA; and
  • Pedersen is an exceptionally good case for the Court’s review because it demonstrates DOMA’s impact on a range of important federal programs like federal income tax, Social Security, federal employee and retiree benefits, and federal statutes (e.g. the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

When the Supreme Court reconvenes in late September for its first conference following the summer recess, the Court will have a whole host of DOMA cases on its plate to consider taking up in its next term.  The Supremes can take up all or none of the cases, or a select group of them.  But because all of the different DOMA cases address the same central issue of discrimination while addressing it with a variety of distinct legal arguments, the inclusion of a case like Pedersen in the Supreme Court’s review makes the case against DOMA even stronger.

You can read GLAD’s full filing with the Supreme Court below, via Scribd.  (H/t to Kathleen for the link.)

[scribd id=103506020 key=key-1bqshfitx4h1uxashael mode=scroll]


  • 1. Sagesse  |  August 21, 2012 at 2:40 pm


  • 2. nightshayde  |  August 21, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    I have an awful fear in the pit of my stomach that the SCOTUS is going to smack down all these cases with one big WHACK and set the cause of equality back decades.

    That fear is right next to the one saying that the right-wing lunatics who seem to honestly believe a woman who is truly raped can not get pregnant from the encounter are going to win elections in more districts than they lose & that all women are going to be forced to wear burquas (though where we're going to find burquas that are made in the USA, I'm not quite sure) and will only be allowed to go outside with their husbands or other male relatives.

    The more the Christian Taliban talk, the more convinced I am that we're going to turn into Afghanistan.

  • 3. DonG90806  |  August 21, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Relax, nightshayde. In his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, our strident opponent Justice Scalia said that if the Court was not prepared to validate laws based on moral choices as it had in Bowers (which had been overturned), state laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, and adult incest would not prove sustainable. "If . . . the promotion of majoritarian sexual morality is not even a legitimate state interest, none of the above-mentioned laws can survive rational-basis review."

    When Judge Walker wrote his opinion overturning Prop 8, a noted commentator stated: Walker is not Anthony Kennedy. But when the chips are down, he certainly knows how to write like him. In a stunning decision this afternoon, Walker trod heavily on the path Kennedy has blazed on gay rights.

  • 4. devon  |  August 22, 2012 at 7:23 am

    I understand that the repubs have approved a policy plank that calls for the dissolution of all existing same sex marriages.

  • 5. Steve  |  August 22, 2012 at 7:55 am

    It's Scalia. He can write whatever he wants, consistency be damned. Besides, you can hear the sarcasm dripping off the page in that quote.

  • 6. Mike in Baltimore  |  August 23, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Got a link to any report on this? Or to the wording in the platform itself?

    And remember, whatever is currently in the platform will not be final until the delegates at the convention actually vote for it. That vote is now scheduled for Monday (dependent on [now] Tropical Storm Isaac).

  • 7. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  December 18, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    […] also been appealed both to the Second Circuit with a request for an expedited appeals schedule and directly to the Supreme Court.  BLAG could seek a suspension of Second Circuit argument in that case as […]

  • 8. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  December 18, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    […] has appealed the case. The plaintiffs, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), have petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari to review the lower (district) court’s […]

  • 9. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  December 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm

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