Windsor & DOMA

Topic: Research the recent Supreme Court case United States v. Windsor (2013), and explain its ruling. Was the court’s majority decision the right one? Was the dissent correct? Explain the ruling and why you agree or disagree with the majority and/or dissent.


Journal Assignment #6

In United States v. Windsor (2013, the Supreme Court holds Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional because it violated Equal Protection principle by treating marriages that have equal status under state law differently under federal law. The court draws this conclusion by looking into the traditional authority of defining marriages first, where they find it is state’s traditional authority to do this. Then the court holds the DOMA violates the principle of Equal Protection in demeaning same-sex marriages with a definition of marriage limited to the union of one man and one woman for purposes of all federal laws.

But the dissenting mainly focuses on the issue of lacking of jurisdiction. Justice Scalia, joined by Justice Thomas, and by the Chief Justice, in part, agreed with the Chief Justice that the Court had “no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation. The Court’s errors . . . spring forth from the same diseased root: an exalted conception of the role of this [Court] in America.” Under Article III of the Constitution, federal courts may only hear cases in which there is an actual “case or controversy.” But in this case, both parties had already agreed that DOMA’s application to the Plaintiff (Windsor) was unconstitutional, thus there was no case or controversy to appeal.

Justice Alito also dissented that same-sex marriage is not a fundamental right since he believes this kind of marriages “is not deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.” Similarly, Justice Scalia seems to seek a uniform definition of marriage in this Nation covering all citizens around the country by dissenting common marriage “had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history.”

This is tricky to ask whether the majority or the dissenting is correct. In terms of jurisdiction, there, indeed, is no dispute regarding the DOMA application to Windsor’s same-sex marriage, because both parties have already agreed upon the issue of constitutionality. And if there are no genuine issues, the federal court shall have no jurisdiction over this case as the Constitution explicitly allocates jurisdiction to federal courts to a limited scope. But it is neither correct to stick on a strictly limited definition of marriage without considering the diversity and development of humanity and protection on common people with different sexual preference. The dissenting on the definition of marriage can be viewed as even archconservative because it tries hardly to narrow it down to a traditionally held one. Therefore, I cannot agree with neither of them.

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China Bar Association; Current GWU Law Student; A man had cried at midnight.

Vigilante wrote 64 posts

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