Thursday, April 05, 2012

1st Circuit Hears Oral Arguments In Challenge To DOMA

The U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday heard oral arguments in three cases challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. The consolidated cases are Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, Hara v. Office of Personnel Management, and Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  In the cases, the district court held that DOMA was unconstitutional. (See prior posting.) Keen News Service, reporting on the arguments, points out that initially the Department of Justice filed an appeal of the district court decisions. However, one month later the Obama administration announced that it considers DOMA unconstitutional and would no longer defend it in court. The Republican leadership in the House of Representatives is defending the district court opinions in the 1st Circuit.  However, a Justice Department lawyer also argued, asking to court to apply strict scrutiny to DOMA, thereby making it likely to be struck down. The Justice Department, however, did defend DOMA against the state of Massachusetts' argument that it infringes the 10th Amendment. A recording of the oral arguments (except for a portion at th beginning not captured because of equipment problems, is available on the Court of Appeals' website.