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DOMA: BLAG asks for stay in Cooper-Harris proceedings, pending a decision in Golinski

DOMA trials Golinski

By Scottie Thomaston

Thanks to Kathleen for this filing

In Cooper-Harris v. USA a veteran of the United States military who got multiple sclerosis as a result of her service is suing for benefits she is currently being denied under the Defense of Marriage Act. The Republican-led House, through BLAG, had filed a motion to intervene in the case to defend DOMA, and then several responses and counter-responses have been filed.

Since all of those filings occurred, another case, Golinski v. OPM has been working its way through the courts. Golinski is a Ninth Circuit challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act. Recently, the plaintiffs attempted to get an initial en banc hearing that would have sped up the challenge, but it was denied. Since a previous request to hear the case on an expedited schedule was granted, oral arguments will be heard by a three-judge panel at the Ninth Circuit in early September.

Since the Golinski case is fast-tracked, BLAG is asking the court in Cooper-Harris to hold off on those proceedings, pending a decision in Golinski. The motion notes that the plaintiffs oppose the motion to stay the proceedings, and the Department of Justice does not oppose it.


  • 1. Sagesse  |  May 30, 2012 at 3:07 pm


  • 2. MFargo  |  May 30, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Is this just a way to pretend BLAG's participation is relevant (without having to do anything) or is there some legal reason to wait for the Golinski decision?

  • 3. Scottie Thomaston  |  May 30, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Whoops, I just typed a message and it didn't take.

    BLAG's defense is relevant since they are currently the only ones defending DOMA. The DOJ is no longer defending it but Republicans, through BLAG, are.

    I doubt there is any real legal reason to stay this case, but I'm just speculating. I've been thinking all along it looks bad for Speaker Boehner and BLAG to defend DOMA in this case against a married servicemember with multiple sclerosis.

  • 4. Kathleen  |  May 30, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    This case (Cooper-Harris) is in a district court within the 9th Circuit’s jurisdiction. So any decision by the 9th Curcuit in the Golinski case will be binding on the judge hearing this district court case.

  • 5. Larry  |  May 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    It seems to me the stay is the right thing to do. Presumably the 9th circuit's decision in Golinski will be binding on this case. So it seems to be a waste to have the lawyers write a set of briefs (and possibly have an evidence gathering trial), and then write a new set of briefs if the Golinski decision comes down in the interim.

    I also wouldn't be surprised if Golinski and Dragovich are consolidated since they decided essentially the same issue (albeit on slightly different reasoning) are in the same district, and neither has been briefed yet.

  • 6. Steve  |  May 30, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    For our side, the more cases the better. It means they have more work to do and spend more money.

  • 7. Straight Dave  |  May 30, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    That's *our* money they're spending. Not that I exepct to get any of it back, but it's the principle of the thing. I just want them to have their asses handed to them in the quickest, cheapest, and most expedient manner possible.

  • 8. RWG  |  May 30, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    If YOU were suffering with MS, which you acquired through service to your country, would YOU feel justice was being served by making you wait another 8-10 months for some other case to be resolved? How would that be justice for you and your family? It's easy to say, "sure, just wait." Some things can't wait and some people have already waited far too long already.

  • 9. Bill S.  |  May 31, 2012 at 3:51 am

    I know it sounds bad, but it makes sense. It takes about a year from beginning to end for a case to be resolved in District Court (if it's not on an expedited schedule). Golinski is on an expedited schedule, with oral arguments in September and a decision possibly in October or November. The result of Golinski will determine the outcome of this case anyway.

    Even if this servicemember were to get a trial and *win* the decision would be stayed anyway.

  • 10. Jamie  |  May 31, 2012 at 12:43 am

    No, Golinski won't nescesarily be binding in this case. The current decision extends benefits to Golinski and Golinski only.

  • 11. Bill S.  |  May 31, 2012 at 3:48 am

    Yes but an appellate affirmation of that decision will hold DOMA Sec. 3 unconstitutional throughout the entire 9th Circuit.

  • 12. devon  |  May 31, 2012 at 5:25 am

    Since all DOMA lawsuit decisions seem to be automatically stayed, the haters win even when they lose. Slow-walking all these cases through multiple courts also is a big win for republicans/haters. DOMA defending lawyers must love the ultra slow progress as it allows them lots of time to pocket taxpayer funds.

  • 13. DOMA challenge Cooper-Har&hellip  |  August 4, 2012 at 2:31 am

    […] but the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) who is defending the law for the House Republicans, asked the court to stay the proceedings in the case pending the outcome of another case, Golinski v. OPM, on expedited […]

  • 14. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  December 13, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    […] but the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) who is defending the law for the House Republicans, asked the court to stay the proceedings in the case pending the outcome of another case, Golinski v. OPM, on expedited […]

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