The Buzz

Part of DOMA unconstitutional, SCOTUS finds; dismisses gay marriage case on procedural grounds

A part of the federal Defense of Marriage of Act is unconstitutional, the Supreme Court said Wednesday.

But it declined to decide if same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. It dismissed a California case, deciding the party trying to enforce a same-sex marriage ban in the state had no right to argue the case.

More on DOMA:

“DOMA violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government,” court says in its opinion.

The ruling means same-sex couples who are legally married must have the same rights (filing income taxes jointly, inheriting money, etc.) as opposite-sex couples.


Anthony Kennedy

wrote the majority opinion, and was the key swing vote.


Antonin Scalia

, in dissent: “We have no power to decide this case. And even if we did, we have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation. The Court’s errors on both points spring forth

from the same diseased root: an exalted conception of the role of this institution in America.”

And, incredibly:

“In the majority’s telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us. The truth is more complicated. It is hard to admit that one’s political opponents are not monsters, especially in a struggle like this one, and the challenge in the end proves more than today’s Court can handle. Too bad. A reminder that disagreement over something so fundamental as marriage can still be politically legitimate would have been a fit task for what in earlier times was called the judicial temperament. We might have covered ourselves with honor

today, by promising all sides of this debate that it was theirs to settle and that we would respect their resolution.

“We might have let the People decide. But that the majority will not do. Some will rejoice in today’s decision, and some will despair at it; that is the nature of a controversy that matters so much to so many. But the Court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that

comes from a fair defeat. We owed both of them better.”