83-Year-Old Takes DOMA Challenge to the Supreme Court
Lawyers working on behalf of Edie Windsor, the 83-year-old challenging the Defense of Marriage Act,
have this week petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States to
consider her case, hoping to bypass the appeals court entirely.
An ailing 83-year-old lesbian asked the
Supreme Court on Monday to hear her legal challenge against a federal
law that defines marriage as a union between a man and woman, attempting
to place her case on a fast-track to the top court.
In June, a New York district court ruled
in Windsor’s favor, finding that a central provision of the law
discriminates against married same-sex couples. The case is now on
expedited appeal before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
But Windsor’s lawyers argue that
premature review of her case by the Supreme Court is warranted since the
issue is already before the court. Also, Windsor suffers from a heart
condition that could end her life before the case is resolved.
Edie is lead plaintiff in Windsor v. United States. After
her partner of 44 years died, she was forced to pay more than $360,000
in estate taxes because the federal government, per the 1996 Defense of
Marriage Act (DOMA), cannot recognize her marriage as legal.
The Obama administration has refused to defend DOMA Section 3 in court, but the Republican House leadership has since taken up the fight.
District Court Judge Barbara Jones ruled in June of this year that
based on a rational basis review, the lowest form of judicial scrutiny,
Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional and violates the 14th Amendment by
denying same-sex couples equal protection under the law.
Lawyers representing the House leadership are expected to appeal, as they have done in several other DOMA suits.
This is the third DOMA suit to reach the Supreme Court, while in total there are currently believed to be 17 active DOMA cases.
The Republican controlled House has been heavily criticized, by
Democratic and grassroots Republican voices, for pledging in excess of
$1.4 million to defend the law.
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