DoJ Re-Ups Its DOMA Appeal With Something About ‘Maintaining The Status Quo’

Here we go again. Just when President Obama thought he had The Gays wrapped around his finger, the Justice Department goes and files a brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act, because hey, that is what the attorneys in the Justice Department are paid to do. “DOMA is supported by rationales that constitute a sufficient rational basis for the law,” the government writes in yesterday’s new filing for both Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. United States, which follows October’s public decision that DoJ would appeal the rulings, after a federal judge in July declared parts of DOMA unconstitutional. “For example,” the brief continues, “as explained below, it is supported by an interest in maintaining the status quo and uniformity on the federal level, and preserving room for the development of policy in the states.”

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  • randy

    Wow — I’m an attorney and those rationales are the lamest of the lame. A law is constitutional because it maintains the status quo? That’s a new one in constitutional history. Uniformity at the federal level? As if that’s a compelling reason to deny a right! And no, DOMA doesn’t preserve the room to develop state policies at all, and in fact inhibits them.

    If that’s all they’ve got, a judge will laugh that one out of court.

  • justiceontherocks

    Randy, they are limp dick arguments for sure.

    And before we get to the apologists: the administration is NOT required to defend every challenged statute. Every President, including this one, has exercised the discretion not to defend laws with which it disagrees.

    DOMA did not change the law on states recognizing marriages performed in other states. That was never required. What DOMA did was enshrine discrimination into federal law.

  • george

    Whatever gets this to the Supreme Court faster. I think the DOMA case has a MUCH better chance of getting through the Supreme Court than the Prop 8 case.

  • Drew


    Randy, it’s pretty obvious that it is a weak defense by design. The linked article even quotes the defense as “half-hearted.” They elected to defend the law without addressing the marriage issue. I think they will be laughed out of court, for sure… Which is not a bad thing for the LGBQ community.

  • Ronbo

    Does anyone else see the irony in calling that bunch of bigots “The Justice Department”? But Obama gives them the go-ahead. I dislike when players play both sides – you know they just have no core values.

  • reason

    The justice department does have some independence form the chief executive, there has been a number of stories of heated arguments between the justice department and the president especially on Guantanamo Bay. A good justice department, unlike Gonzalez, doesn’t bend to the will of the president also like Holder did as Assistant Attorney General in the Clinton pardons. Holder nearly got derailed from being certified becuase of his inability to resist the Clinton charm, he promised to do things differently. If the arguments holding up DOMA are weak then they will not stand.

  • DR

    I am so tired of this. Obama and the DOJ don’t need to defend the law, I wish they would just stop already. *sigh*

  • Steve

    If I know my history correctly, wasn’t it also up to the individual states to decide if they would allow slavery or not?

    If treatment of citizens was required to be uniform then, it is also required to be uniform now.

  • Progress

    Firstly, while Obama doesn’t have to defend every challenge to every law, it is the responsibility of the DoJ to defend our laws. Whether or not they agree with them. (Stupid, I know.)

    DOMA deserves to be trashed, for sure. And, it enshrines discrimination, absolutely. But the SUREST way to make sure that the equality is permanent, is to defend it weakly and allow the Supreme Court to strike it down the entire act. Not just the couple of sections.

    That way, there are no traces of it left and it would take another act of Congress, under the guidelines set by the Supreme Court, to bring it back to life.

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