The Obama administration on Friday
asked the Supreme Court to review a challenge to the Defense of
Marriage Act (DOMA) originating from New York.
The case, Windsor v. United States,
involves Edith Windsor, an 83-year-old lesbian widow who had to pay
more than $360,000 in estate taxes after the death of her wife, Thea
Spyer, because the government would not recognize their 2007
marriage. The women shared their lives together for 44 years.
The Court of Appeals for the Second
Circuit last week agreed with Windsor's assertion that DOMA is
unconstitutional. The 2-1 ruling was also the first to apply
heightened scrutiny to the unions of gay and lesbian couples.
In a supplemental brief filing, the
Department of Justice (DOJ) said the case should take precedence over
other pending challenges to DOMA, gay weekly The
Washington Blade reported.
The DOJ had previously asked the high
court to consider a case from Massachusetts. However, last week's
ruling – which was handed down rather unexpectedly – has caused
the agency to reconsider.
“Although Department of Health and
Human Services v. Massachusetts … is also a case in which a
court of appeals has rendered a decision, this case now provides the
most appropriate vehicle for this Court's resolution of the
constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA,” the DOJ's brief states.
“In particular, the court of appeals in Massachusetts was
constrained by binding circuit precedent as to the applicable level
of scrutiny … whereas the court of appeals here was not so
constrained, and its analysis may be beneficial to this Court's
consideration for that issue.”
It is widely anticipated that the court
will announce next month whether or not it will hear a DOMA case.
Pelosi criticizes legal spending to defend gay marriage ban DOMA.)