Friday, July 05, 2013

Only 5 Days For Lower Court Opinion To Cite SCOTUS Decision On DOMA [Corrected]

It took only 5 days for a lower federal court to become one of the first to cite the U.S. Supreme Court's recent landmark Defense of Marriage Act decision. Relying on language in United States v. Windsor, a federal district court has refused to dismiss a same-sex couple's equal protection challenge to Michigan's ban on adoptions by same-sex couples and its state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.  In DeBoer v. Snyder, (ED MI, July 1, 2013), a Michigan federal district court said:
Plaintiffs’ equal protection claim has sufficient merit to proceed. The United States Supreme Court’s recent decision in United States v. Windsor ... has provided the requisite precedential fodder for both parties to this litigation. Defendants will no doubt cite to the relevant paragraphs of the majority opinion espousing the state’s “historic and essential authority to define the marital relation.”... 
On the other hand, plaintiffs are prepared to claim Windsor as their own.... And why shouldn’t they? The Supreme Court has just invalidated a federal statute on equal protection grounds because it “place[d] same-sex couples in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage.”... Moreover, and of particular importance to this case, the justices expressed concern that ... such discriminatory legislation would ... impair the rights of “tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples” as well.... This is exactly the type of harm plaintiffs seek to remedy in this case..... [T]his Court cannot say that plaintiffs’ claims for relief are without plausibility.
Yahoo! News reports on the Michigan decision.

CORRECTION: This posting originally indicated that this was the first decision to cite the Supreme Court's Windsor case. As Michael Worley in a comment to this posting indicates, actually the first citation was only 2 days after the SCOTUS decision in a different Michigan federal court opinion on domestic partner benefits.  For details on that case, see this posting.