supremecourtThe U.S. Supreme Court has scheduled two days of oral arguments on two separate but related cases beginning on March 26, 2013. The Court will be hearing arguments on California's Proposition 8 which amended the state constitution to disallow same-sex marriage is constitutional and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA defines the term "marriage" for all purposes under federal law, including provision of federal benefits as "only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife."

Proposition 8 supporters have appealed a 9th Circuit Court of Appealing ruling which overturned Proposition 8 on the grounds that it removed an existing right for same-sex couples to marry. In both cases, the Court is requesting that the parties address the issue of whether the Court has jurisdiction to even hear the cases when the governor and attorney general of California refuse to defend Proposition 8 and the Obama administration refuses to defend DOMA.

In the Proposition 8 case (Hollingsworth v. Perry – see Petition for Writ of Certiorari ), the appeal to the 9th Circuit's decision was brought by "ProtectMarriage.com," and Dennis Hollinsgworth who had placed Proposition 8 on the ballot.

In the DOMA case (United States v. Windsor – see Petition for Writ of Certiorari), the petition for appeal was filed by the United States Government but the petition requested that the Court should decide two other cases on jurisdictional issues before addressing the Windsor case. In other words, the brief met the minimum requirement for lodging a petition but does not actively defend DOMA. In fact, the Obama administration has asked that the Court strike down DOMA. Before addressing the merits of DOMA, the Supreme Court will have to decide whether the Republican congressional leadership has the legal standing to step in and defend DOMA when the administration refuses to do so.

If the Supreme Court denies jurisdiction in one or both of these cases, the lower court decisions rendering Proposition 8 and DOMA unconstitutional.

Filings and briefs on both the DOMA and Proposition 8 cases are available online at the U.S. Supreme Court website: http://www.supremecourt.gov/docket/DOMPRP8.aspx

 

 

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