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Updates on challenges to Section 3 of DOMA

DOMA trials LGBT Legal Cases

By Scottie Thomaston

Cooper-Harris v. USA plaintiffs. Attribution: The Washington Blade
Cooper-Harris v. USA plaintiffs. Attribution: The Washington Blade

Now that the Supreme Court has decided United States v. Windsor, the challenge to Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), some cases in the lower courts are beginning to wrap up; in situations where the end of Section 3 of DOMA doesn’t resolve all the issues presented – such as other immigration statutes or Section 2 of DOMA, soem cases are beginning their next stages.

First, in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, the case in which the First Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Section 3 of DOMA as unconstitutional, the First Circuit has issued its mandate, ending its involvement in the case. Since the judgment of the First Circuit and the Supreme Court are the same, the plaintiffs win. Issuance of the mandate in this case also means that another challenge to Section 3 of DOMA, McLaughlin v. Panetta, may continue. This is a military-related DOMA challenge in the district court, and it was on hold pending the First Circuit’s mandate.

In two cases challenging the statute, Blesch v. Holder (filed by Immigration Equality) and Cozen O’Connor v. Tobits, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) who had been intervening in these cases in its defense has filed motions to withdraw. Since the statute was struck down, BLAG has nothing left to defend. (The motion in Cozen O’Connor is here.)

In Cooper-Harris v. USA, another military-related challenge to the law, the plaintiffs have filed a notice advising the district court that the Supreme Court has issued its decisions in United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry. The case was argued in the district court back in May, but no decision has been issued. Windsor is now binding authority on the subject of the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA, but a similar marriage definition that applies in the context of the military is also at issue in the case.

h/t Kathleen Perrin, as usual, for providing these filings


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