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ACLU Files Petition for Certiorari with Supreme Court in Windsor

The ACLU files a petition with the Supreme Court on behalf of Edie Windsor asking for review of her case against DOMA before it is decided by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.  Speaking to the media, Windsor’s lawyer says that the petition is based in part on the 83-year-old plaintiff’s heart condition.  Windsor had earlier asked the Second Circuit to expedite the appeal of her case at the circuit level.

In its filing, the ACLU asks the Supreme Court the following question: “Does Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, 1 U.S.C. § 7, which defines the term “marriage” for all purposes under federal law as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife,” deprive same-sex couples who are lawfully married under the laws of their states (such as New York) of the equal protection of the laws, as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States?”

Writing in support of the Supreme Court taking up the Windsor case before it is heard at the circuit level, Windsor and the ACLU argue that the case presents a constitutional question “of fundamental national importance, the resolution of which will have wide-ranging effects extending far beyond the parties to this case.”  As they point out, there exists some “disarray” among the lower courts as to the law, making it a good candidate for initial Supreme Court review in order to provide clear guidance to the lower courts.

In addition, the brief argues that Windsor’s case specifically provides an ideal vehicle for considering DOMA’s constitutionality, since the case addresses no other issues and touches upon DOMA’s impact specifically on the issues of taxation and the estate tax deduction.

Finally, the brief argues powerfully that the Windsor case should be addressed quickly because of Edie Windsor’s health problems: “Ms. Windsor, not Ms. Windsor’s estate, should receive the benefit to which the District Court has already ruled that she is entitled; the constitutional injury that has been inflicted on Ms. Windsor, as the executor of Ms. Spyer’s estate and its sole beneficiary, should be remedied within her lifetime.”

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