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Topics In the News
DOMA Case to be Appealed to U.S. Supreme Court
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 06/21/12
Last updated on: 06/21/12
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On June 20, 2012, lawyers for the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), which is defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, indicated in a court filing that it will ask the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn the May 31, 2012 ruling of the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit that found DOMA unconstitutional.

As Chris Geidner reports in MetroWeekly, the news came in a filing in another case. Lawyers for BLAG asked a federal court in Connecticut to delay another challenge to DOMA, Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management, which is being brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) on behalf of same-sex couples in Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire, because it is planning to file a writ of certiorari in Massachusetts v. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, which was decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit on May 31, 2012.

In the filing on June 20, BLAG's lawyers wrote, "The House now is preparing a petition for certiorari in the Massachusetts case, a petition which it intends to file by the end of this month. Massachusetts is a good candidate for Supreme Court review, as the First Circuit itself recognized: 'Supreme Court review of DOMA is highly likely.' If the Supreme Court grants certiorari in Massachusetts, which we think is likely, the Court likely will docket the case for briefing, argument and decision during the October 2012 Term."

If the Supreme Court does grant certiorari in the Massachusetts case, which was brought by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, it is likely also to review the companion case, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, which was brought by GLAD.

After BLAG files its petition, other parties have 30 days to file briefs. The GLAD plaintiffs, the Attorney General of Massachusetts, the Department of Justice, and other interested individuals and organizations will submit their views as to whether the Court should take the case.

The Supreme Court will then decide whether it wants to review the case. Most legal scholars expect that the Court will eventually rule on the constitutionality of DOMA, but it may choose to await decisions in other DOMA cases before deciding which case to review.

If the Supreme Court does grant review in the Massachusetts and Gill cases, they could be argued in the fall and a decision released in June or July of 2013.

Meanwhile, GLAD has announced that it will vigorously oppose BLAG's motion to halt the proceedings in Pedersen while awaiting a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether they will grant cert in the Massachusetts case.

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