HRC Blog

Obama Administration Seeks Supreme Court Review of DOMA

This week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) requested that the Supreme Court review two cases challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  The first case,  Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management, is a California-based case currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  The Court of Appeals has yet to rule on this case. 

In the second case, Massachusetts v. Department of Health and Human Services, the First Circuit Court of Appeals held in May that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional. The House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) sought review of this case last week. The Obama administration announced that it would stop defending Section 3 of DOMA in February 2011. If the Supreme Court grants this review, oral arguments of both cases will take place this fall. 

In addition to these Supreme Court filings, BLAG continues to defend DOMA on the federal circuit level.  Yesterday, a federal court denied BLAG's motion to stay in Pedersen v. OPM.  BLAG had argued that Pedersen presented the same issue as Windsor v. United States, which found DOMA to be unconstitutional last month and is now on appeal. In denying BLAG's motion to stay, the judge not only distinguished the two cases, but concluded that allowing the case to proceed was in the public interest and described determining the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA as "an important issue to the nation as a whole."

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