- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
- John Boehner says GOP should support gay candidates: ‘I do’
- Grass-Whopper: Pan-fried cricket burgers go over big in New York City
Obama administration under fire in gay marriage arguments
Question of the Day
Gay marriage is on trial but it was the Obama administration facing the heat as the Supreme Court began the second of two days of landmark oral arguments on the constitutionality of gay marriage.
With the court on Wednesday taking up the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) effectively barring federal recognition of state same-sex marriage laws, several justices questioned the Justice Department's declaration that it would not defend the law's constitutionality even as it continued to enforce the statute.
Centrist Justice Anthony Kennedy, often seen as the key swing vote on the nine-member court, said it was "troubling" that a president and his administration could pick and choose which laws to defend in constitutional challenges. Chief Justice John Roberts asked Deputy Solicitor Sri Srinivasan, the lawyer representing the administration in Wednesday's arguments, "What is your test?"
Mr. Srinivasan, said the court should issue a ruling on DOMA, and argued there is a precedent for the executive branch to not defend a law even while it was enforcing it. But Associate Justice Antonin Scalia challenged the government's line of argument, saying what was being asked of the high court was "totally unprecedented."
In a second hour, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. said DOMA subjected legally married same-sex couples to "terrible discrimination," and the federal government should not have its own uniform marriage law that is out of step with states. "We don't think the federal government should be thought of as the 51st state," he said.
But Justice Kennedy later questioned whether the federal statute defining what marriage intruded into an area best left to the individual states to decide.
"The question is whether the federal government … has the authority to regulate marriage," he said. "That authority undermines the states' role in the federal system."
Because the administration declined in 2011 to defend the law, the GOP majority in the House of Representatives has hired noted constitutional lawyer Paul Clement to defend DOMA. President Obama announced last year he had personally changed his view and now support same-sex marriage.
Mr. Clement in turn faced some sharp questions from the justices over the House's right to challenge the law.
"The House is the proper authority to defend" DOMA, Mr. Clement insisted at one point.
The case before the court involves a dispute over the application of federal estate taxes for a lesbian couple married in Canada but living in New York. As the executor of her late partner's estate, Edith Windsor is seeking a refund on the $360,000 in federal taxes she was billed because she was not recognized as her partner's spouse.
A decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act could have broad consequences, as more than 1,000 federal laws and programs have rules whose application depends in part on a person's marital status.
The court began the two-hour oral arguments Wednesday with a lengthy discussion over whether the court should even be deciding the case, and whether the House of Representatives had legal "standing" to defend DOMA.
On Tuesday, the high court heard a separate case on the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, the 2008 voter initiative effective banning gay marriage in the state.
The Supreme Court is expected to issue ruling in the two cases by June.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Obama admin.: One in 10 Obamacare forms might have errors
- Obama administration knew of key Obamacare delay in August, emails say
- House Speaker John Boehner: It took me 3 to 4 hours to sign up for Obamacare
- Young millennials shun Obamacare, creating risky imbalance
- Almost 1.5 million deemed eligible for Medicaid in October alone: Obama administration
Latest Blog Entries
- Calif.: Give 'gift of health' by pledging cash for the uninsured
- Tensions hit boiling point over Obamacare enrollment figures, error rates
- Young, uninsured adults vital to Obamacare are not keen on enrolling: New Harvard poll
- Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox will promote Obamacare at Mall of America
- HealthCare.gov employs a new look once again
Raised in Northern Virginia, David R. Sands received an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He worked as a reporter for several Washington-area business publications before joining The Washington Times.
At The Times, Mr. Sands has covered numerous beats, including international trade, banking, politics ...
- SANDS: Shark attack: Miami wins first U.S. Chess League title
- SANDS: Magnus Carlsen's future bright as the new king of chess
- Norway's Magnus Carlsen wins world chess title
- Magnus Carlsen on verge of world chess title with quick win over champion
- SANDS: Carlsen close to chess title as Anand cracks under endgame pressure
Latest Blog Entries
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- Colorado judge: Bakery owner discriminated against gay couple
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- Kill team: Obama war chiefs widen drone death zones
- Obamas call to close Vatican embassy is 'slap in the face' to Roman Catholics
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- Hola: Boehner prepares to push amnesty bill through House
- KUHNER: Who betrayed Navy SEAL Team 6?
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Why can’t humans just be free to be humans?
Get in the middle of all the action inside and outside the boxing ring.
White House pets gone wild!