Jenner & Block

Firm’s Amicus Brief Urges Supreme Court to Find DOMA Unconstitutional

The Firm submitted an amicus brief regarding one of two gay-rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Filed on behalf of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders and Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, Inc., two leading gay civil rights organizations, the brief supports Edith Windsor’s groundbreaking effort to overturn the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The Firm’s brief urges the Court to affirm rulings of the First and Second Circuit Courts of Appeals, which found the Act unconstitutional.

The brief argues that DOMA fails to meet not only the “heightened scrutiny” standard that must be applied to laws that discriminate against certain groups but the less rigorous “rational basis” standard as well. “DOMA both targets a group disliked at the time of its passage and impacts important personal interests. It arose not out of the usual process of allocating federal rights and benefits but as a one-time departure from the traditional method of predicating eligibility for federal marriage-based protections on a couple’s marital status under state law,” the brief states. The brief was written by Partners Paul M. Smith and Luke C. Platzer and Associate Melissa A. Cox.