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This case involves a same-sex couple who were denied the estate tax exemption for surviving spouses due to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which excluded same-sex partners from the definition of "spouse" in federal statutes. The Supreme Court ruled that DOMA's exclusion of same-sex couples from federal recognition of marriage was unconstitutional. The constitutionality of § 3 of DOMA was challenged in a tax refund lawsuit, and the District Court ruled it unconstitutional. Both the Justice Department and the House of Representatives appealed, but the Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's judgment. The Supreme Court granted certiorari on the constitutionality of § 3 of DOMA and two additional questions. The case is justiciable under Article III, and the Court has jurisdiction to decide this case.
The Court found that DOMA violates the Constitution by imposing restrictions and disabilities on same-sex couples and interferes with the equal dignity of same-sex marriages, which is conferred by the States in the exercise of their sovereign power. The law has the purpose and effect of disapproving of same-sex marriages made lawful by the States and creates inequality by denying them equal rights and responsibilities. DOMA's impact extends beyond the estate tax issue in this case and includes laws related to Social Security, housing, taxes, criminal sanctions, copyright, and veterans' benefits. The Court affirms the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
However, the court cannot rule on challenges to state marriage definitions affecting same-sex couples in Hollingsworth v. Perry due to a technicality of standing. The author questions the power of the Court and Court of Appeals to decide the case and criticizes the majority's opinion on the unclear justifications for their decision. The author disagrees with the majority opinion and argues that the Constitution does not prohibit the government from enforcing traditional moral and sexual norms.
The author disagrees with the Court's ruling on DOMA and believes it undermines democracy. Same-sex marriage is not a fundamental right under the Constitution, and classifications subject to strict scrutiny must be narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling government interest. The Constitution does not endorse traditional or consent-based views of marriage, and legislatures can choose between the two as long as it does not conflict with the Constitution. The Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA as it violates the Fifth Amendment. The author agrees that same-sex marriage should be resolved at the state level but disagrees with the Court's conclusion that Section 3 of DOMA encroaches upon the States' prerogatives. Congress has the power to define a category of persons based on marital status if it has the power to enact the laws affected by Section 3.
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