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United States v. Windsor (12-307) 
  ISSUE:
Constitutionality of Defense of Marriage Act;  jurisdiction; standing 

Oral argument scheduled for March 27, 2013 

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This case directly involves only federal estate taxes, yet it is expected to have an impact on many employee benefits. Windsor was lawfully married to her same-sex partner who died and left her estate to Windsor. The Internal Revenue Service refused to recognize the marriage for purposes of allowing property to pass from a decedent to a surviving spouse free of estate taxes. This was based on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Section 3, which defines “marriage” and “spouse” for all purposes under federal law to exclude marriages between persons of the same sex, including marriages recognized under state law. A federal district court concluded that DOMA section 3 violates the equal protection guarantee of the 5th amendment; the 2nd Circuit affirmed. 

The US Supreme Court granted certiorari to decide (1) whether Section 3 of DOMA violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws as applied to persons of the same sex who are legally married under the laws of their State, (2) whether the Executive Branch’s agreement with the court below that DOMA is unconstitutional deprives the Supreme Court of jurisdiction to decide this case; and (3) whether the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the United States House of Representatives has Article III standing in this case.

The US Supreme Court granted certiorari to review the 2nd Circuit judgment.

Case below: Windsor v. United States (2nd Cir 10/18/2012) 
Official docket sheet 
Certiorari granted: December 7, 2012. 
Oral argument:  March 27, 2013.  

Questions presented in petition for certiorari:   

Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defines the term "marriage" for all purposes under federal law, including the provision of federal benefits, as "only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife." 1 U.S.C. 7. It similarly defines the term "spouse" as "a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife." Ibid. The question presented is: 

Whether Section 3 of DOMA violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws as applied to persons of the same sex who are legally married under the laws of their State. 

Questions added by the US Supreme Court:

Whether the Executive Branch’s agreement with the court below that DOMA is unconstitutional deprives the Supreme Court of jurisdiction to decide this case.

Whether the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the United States House of Representatives has Article III standing in this case.

Certiorari Documents: 

Counsel:

  • For Petitioner: . 
  • For Respondent: . 

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