UPDATED SCOTUS: Defense of Marriage Act is Unconstitutional, Prop 8 Appeal Dismissed

Categories: Courts

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SCOTUS to DOMA: You suck!
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Update: SCOTUS has effectively killed California's Proposition 8 -- and therefore allowed same-sex marriage to continue in that state -- by dismissing an appeal from the Prop's proponents. The justices ruled that the proponents did not have legal standing to appeal the California Supreme Court's ruling finding Prop 8 unconstitutional.

Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion, joined by Scalia, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan. Kennedy, Thomas, Alito, and Sotomayor dissented.


Defense of Marriage Act is an unconstitutional deprivation of rights under the Fifth Amendment, according to a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued this morning.

"DOMA's prinicipal effect is to identify and make unequal a subset of state-sanctioned marriages," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the opinion. "It contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their state, but not others, of both rights and responsibilities, creating two contradictory marriage regimes within the same state. "

The ruling means same-sex couples are entitled to federal benefits previously barred under DOMA.

More on this to come.

Kennedy was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Breyer, and Kagan.

Justices Roberts, Scalia, Alito, and Thomas filed dissenting opinions.

More from Kennedy's opinion: "DOMA's avowed purpose and practical effect are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the States. DOMA's history of enactment and its own text demonstrate that interference with the equal dignity of same-sex marriages, conferred by the states in the exercise of their sovereign power, was more than an incidental effect of the federal statute. It was its essence."

Justice Scalia wrote in his dissent that "We have no power to decide this case. And even if we did, we have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation. The Court's errors on both points spring forth from the same diseased root: an exalted conception of the role of this institute in America."

But ol' Antonin was just getting started: "The Court is eager -- hungry-- to tell everyone its view of the legal question at the heart of this case. Standing in the way is an obstacle, a technicality of little interest to anyone but the people of We the People, who created it as a barrier against judges' intrusion into their lives. They gave judges...a power to decide not abstract questions, but real, concrete 'Cases' and 'Controversies.' Yet the plaintiff and the Government agree entirely on what should happen in this lawsuit. They agree that the court below got it right; and they agreed in the court below that the court below that one got it right as well. What, then are we doinghere?"

He writes that "in the majority's telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us. The truth is more complicated. It is hard to admit that one's political opponents are not monsters, especially in a struggle like this one, and the challenge in the end proves more than today's Court can handle."

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