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Three states and several other groups file amicus briefs in DOMA challenge

The states of New York, Connecticut and Vermont filed an amicus brief [text, PDF] along with several other groups in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] on Friday in support of the lower court ruling that found the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional [text, PDF; JURIST report]. Friends of the court included a group of family law professors, members of the US House of Representatives and several New York City officials [brief texts, PDF]. The Second Circuit's ruling was the fourth federal decision finding that section 3 of DOMA [text], which denies federal marriage benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples, is an unconstitutional interference in a state's right to define marriage. The case involves a woman whose same-sex marriage was recognized in New York, but not by the federal government under DOMA. When her spouse died, she was required to pay over $360,000 in federal estate taxes; married couples are exempt from this tax. In her decision, Judge Barbara Jones found that the provision did not pass the lowest level of scrutiny, rational basis review [Cornell LII backgrounder]. Currently on appeal, several other groups [materials] have shown their support for Jones' ruling by filing amicus briefs explaining why her ruling should be upheld.

The debate over LGBT rights is an ever-expanding issue. A recent JURIST Feature provides an in-depth and comprehensive analysis of the topic. In August, the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) [advocacy website] asked [JURIST report] the Supreme Court to review the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text; JURIST news archive]. Then, in July, a lesbian couple filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Central District of California [official website] in a DOMA challenge that seeks to achieve for gay and lesbian couples the same federal immigration rights afforded to heterosexual couples [JURIST report] under the Immigration and Nationality Act [materials] In addition, JURIST has published two editorials related to DOMA earlier this month. The first focuses the potential constitutional flaws of DOMA [JURIST comment] and the second discusses the deeper federalism issues that are contained in the law [JURIST op-ed].

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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