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Supreme Court strikes down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling by Justice Kennedy in United States v. Windsor, strikes down Section 3 of DOMA as unconstitutional under equal protection principles in the Fifth Amendment.

Continue Leave a Comment June 26, 2013

Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Windsor DOMA challenge

The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in U.S. v. Windsor, the case challenging the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies married same-sex couples from accessing federal marital benefits. The hearing is split into two sections: a 50-minute discussion of questions of standing and jurisdiction, and a one hour discussion of the law’s merits.

Continue Leave a Comment March 27, 2013

Final Supreme Court briefs filed in Windsor DOMA case

All parties in the Windsor challenge to Section 3 of DOMA file their final briefs with the Supreme Court. One brief, by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group defending DOMA’s constitutionality, addresses the merits of the case. The other briefs, filed by BLAG, the Justice Department, Edie Windsor and a court-appointed outside attorney, address the issues of BLAG’s standing to appeal and whether or not the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to hear the case.

Continue Leave a Comment March 20, 2013

American Sociological Association files Supreme Court brief regarding same-sex parenting

The American Sociological Association (ASA) files a friend of the court brief in both the Windsor DOMA case and the Prop 8 case arguing that children do just as well when raised by same-sex parents as they do when raised by opposite-sex parents.

Continue Leave a Comment February 28, 2013

Parties to the Windsor DOMA challenge asks Supreme Court for 125 minute oral argument

The Solicitor General files a request with the Supreme Court in the Windsor DOMA challenge, joined by all the parties to the case, asking the Court to allow for 125 minutes of oral argument time in the case as opposed to the usual 60 minutes.

Continue Leave a Comment February 26, 2013

Edith Windsor files Supreme Court brief arguing DOMA Section 3 is unconstitutional

Edith Windsor, the original plaintiff in the DOMA challenge U.S. v. Windsor, files a brief with the Supreme Court arguing that DOMA’s Section 3 is unconstitutional.  In the brief, Windsor’s lawyers argue that “DOMA’s discriminatory treatment of married gay couples violates Ms. Windsor’s right to the equal protections of the laws as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment.”

Arguing in support of a heightened scrutiny of judicial review for laws pertaining to gays and lesbians, Windsor’s lawyers write, “The fact that gay couples are the only legally married couples in the entire nation who cannot benefit from the wide range of federal benefits provided to all other legally married couples is itself powerful evidence of gay people’s ongoing political vulnerability.”

In the brief, Windsor and her attorneys argue that, while DOMA should be considered (and invalidated) using heightened scrutiny, it also fails the more deferential rational basis test.  The law, they write, is “not rationally related to any legitimate federal interest in procreation,” “not rationally related to any … interest in uniformity or conserving federal resources,” and “fails to further any legitimate federal interest in dual sovereignty, tradition, or caution.”  The brief also addresses the specific tax-related facts of Windsor’s challenge, arguing that “even if the federal government has a legitimate interest in encouraging responsible procreation by straight couples, it would be irrational to think that denying gay couples the benefits of the estate tax deduction would do anything to further that interest.”

Windsor’s lawyers also make the intriguing case in their brief that DOMA exempts same-sex married couples from certain ethical restrictions by which opposite-sex couples must abide:

“At the same time, DOMA exempts married gay couples from federal restrictions and duties, such as the financial disclosure requirements that apply to the spouses of federal officials…. DOMA also prevents the federal government from enforcing laws against third parties where those laws depend on marital status. For example, it is a federal crime to retaliate against a federal law enforcement official by threatening or injuring his or her spouse…. Under DOMA, however, the federal government cannot use this law to prosecute the murderer of a gay FBI agent’s spouse.”

Leave a Comment February 26, 2013

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