It's possible that Karen Golinski's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) challenge won't be resolved in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
In the past week, both the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) and the Department of Justice have asked the Supreme Court to decide whether DOMA Section 3 is constitutional. The section limits federal programs and benefits for marriage to legal unions of a man and a woman. Now, the federal government is battling itself to resolve whether the provision violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause, reports SCOTUSblog.
The First Circuit Court of Appeals was the first federal appellate court to conclude that DOMA is unconstitutional, but Ninth Circuit oral arguments in Golinski’s case are scheduled for September.
Golinski sued the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to obtain health insurance benefits for her spouse, Amy Cunninghis. The two were legally married during the brief period in 2008 when the state permitted same-sex marriages.
In her claim, Golinski sought a determination from the court that DOMA Section 3, as applied to her, violates the United States Constitution by refusing to recognize lawful marriages when determining benefits for federal employees, and claimed that she was unconstitutionally denied legal protections and benefits under federal law that would be available to her if she were a heterosexual with a opposite-sex spouse.
A federal district judge ruled in her favor in February, and BLAG appealed. BLAG has also been fighting the First Circuit battle in Gill v. OPM, so now it’s shifted its focus from the appellate courts to the Supreme Court. (The petition for Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group v. Gill is available here.)
That tactic seems to work for the Justice Department, which asked the Supreme Court this week to hear both Gill and Golinski, reports Metro Weekly.
Do you want to see a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in this case, or are you ready for the Supreme Court to decide if DOMA is unconstitutional?
- Will SCOTUS Hear DOMA Challenge During 2012 Term? (FindLaw’s Supreme Court Blog)
- Judge Dismisses DOMA Lawsuit, Even Though Everyone Involved Seems to Hate DOMA (FindLaw’s Courtside)
- Boehner, BLAG Will Appeal DOMA Ruling (FindLaw’s Ninth Circuit Blog)