Supreme Court Asked to Review Federal Defense of Marriage Act

The Supreme Court is likely to review lower courts’ actions striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as soon as its next term.

On June 29, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives asked the Supreme Court to review the First Circuit’s panel decision in Massachusetts v. HHS, which declared unconstitutional the definition of marriage under DOMA. Earlier this week, the Obama Administration requested Supreme Court review in the same case, as well as expedited review in a case invalidating DOMA currently on appeal to the Ninth Circuit (Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management).

DOMA reaffirms that for the purposes of federal law, the term marriage means only the legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife, regardless of how any states might choose to redefine the institution of marriage under state law. It was enacted into law in 1996 with broad bipartisan support in both houses of Congress and signed by President Clinton. The executive branch successfully defended DOMA’s constitutionality for 15 years, including during the Obama Administration’s first two years.



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