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Department Of Justice Asks The Supreme Court to Take On DOMA’s Constitutionality

The Obama administration’s Department of Justice  is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a pair of cases challenging the constitutionality of the federal definition of “marriage” contained in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in its upcoming spring session

In the filings to the Supreme Court for the cases Golinski v. Office of Personnel management and Massachusetts v. Department of Health and Human Services General Donald Verrilli Jr., the DOJ’s top appellate litigator, argues that a single question is presented by the cases, which the Supreme Court should accept the cases to answer: “Whether Section 3 of DOMA violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws as applied to persons.

Since February 2011, DOJ has stopped defending Section 3 of DOMA, following a determination by President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder that the law is unconstitutional and explains its reasons for asking the Supreme Court to hear the cases:

Although the Executive Branch agrees with the district court’s determination in this case that Section 3 is unconstitutional, we respectfully seek this Court’s review so that the question may be authoritatively decided by this Court. As explained above, to ensure that the Judiciary is the final arbiter of Section 3’s constitutionality, the President has instructed Executive departments and agencies to continue to enforce Section 3 until there is a definitive judicial ruling that Section 3 is unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court then will consider whether it wants to take the case after it returns from its summer recess, a question most expect it to be yes since the constitutionality of a federal statute is at issue and  appears to be  likely after today’s filings.

You can read the Department of Justices letter and petition HERE:


Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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