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Jan 31 2013

Senators File Brief with the Supreme Court On The Defense of Marriage Act

Brief Defends the Constitutionality of DOMA

U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) led a group of 10 Senators this week in filing a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor, a constitutional challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Submitting the brief with Hatch were Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). All 10 Senators that filed the brief served in Congress in 1996 and voted for DOMA. 


The Senators argue that Congress’ purposes in enacting DOMA were unique federal interests such as codifying the existing and longstanding federal definition of marriage as well as uniformity and certainty in the application of federal law.  Congress wanted to ensure that, at both the federal and state levels, marriage policy would continue to be decided by the American people’s elected representatives, not by courts. The brief also directly challenges the Obama administration’s claim that DOMA was motivated by animus or disapproval of gay and lesbian people. 


In the brief, the Senators write that “Congress was concerned with the impact that recognition of same-sex marriage in one or more states would have on other states and on the federal government … By enacting DOMA, Congress sought to mitigate this national confusion by clarifying the definition of marriage for purposes of federal law, while preserving the authority of states to make determinations with regard to their own laws.”


The oral argument in United States v. Windsor is scheduled for March 27, 2013.


Hatch served as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in 1996 when Congress overwhelmingly passed DOMA (85-14 in the Senate, 342-67 in the House) and President Bill Clinton signed it into law.


To view the amicus brief, click HERE.