Court Takes up Defense of Marriage Act

The Supreme Court today heard oral arguments on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Before getting to the merits of the law, though, the justices wrestled with standing and jurisdiction issues now that the government is no longer defending the law and a group of House members is standing in its place. Allowing the House group to defend the law is "very strange" said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, while others said the court should not act when original parties in litigation end up on the same side. The government argued that the court does have jurisdiction because it has continued the appeal to show "respect" for Congress. On the issue of the law’s constitutionality, supporters of the law argued that Congress is entitled to establish uniform rules for federal benefits. Opponents argued the bill discriminates against same-sex couples and inserts the federal government into an issue traditionally reserved for the states. The Blog of Legal Times looks at the issues.