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Windsor: Roberts Dissent

Windsor: Roberts Dissent

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Published by Equality Case Files
12-307 USA v Windsor DOMA
12-307 USA v Windsor DOMA

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: Equality Case Files on Jun 26, 2013
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07/14/2013

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 _________________  _________________ 
1Cite as: 570 U. S. ____ (2013)R
OBERTS
, C. J., dissenting
SU 
PREME
 
CO
RT
 
O
F
 
THE
UN 
I
TE
D S
T
A
TE
S
No. 12307
UNITED STATES, PETITIONER
v.
EDITH SCHLAIN
 
WINDSOR,
IN HER CAPACITY AS EXECUTOR OF THE
 
ESTATE OF THEA CLARA SPYER,
ET AL
.
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT
 
[June 26, 2013]
C
HIEF
J
USTICE
R
OBERTS
, dissenting.I agree with J
USTICE
S
CALIA 
that this Court lacks juris-diction to review the decisions of the courts below. Onthe merits of the constitutional dispute the Court decides todecide, I also agree with J
USTICE
S
CALIA 
that Congressacted constitutionally in passing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Interests in uniformity and stability am-ply justified Congresss decision to retain the definition of marriage that, at that point, had been adopted by everyState in our Nation, and every nation in the world.
 Post
,at 1920 (dissenting opinion).The majority sees a more sinister motive, pointing outthat the Federal Government has generally (though notuniformly) deferred to state definitions of marriage in thepast. That is true, of course, but none of those prior state-by-state variations had involved differences over some-thingas the majority puts itthought of by most peopleas essential to the very definition of [marriage] and toits role and function throughout the history of civilization.
 Ante
, at 13. That the Federal Government treated thisfundamental question differently than it treated variationsover consanguinity or minimum age is hardly surprising and hardly enough to support a conclusion that theprincipal purpose,
ante
, at 22, of the 342 Representa-
 
 
2 UNITED STATES
v.
WINDSORR
OBERTS
, C. J., dissenting
tives and 85 Senators who voted for it, and the Presidentwho signed it, was a bare desire to harm. Nor do the snip-pets of legislative history and the banal title of the Actto which the majority points suffice to make such a show-ing. At least without some more convincing evidence thatthe Acts principal purpose was to codify malice, and thatit furthered
no
legitimate government interests, I wouldnot tar the political branches with the brush of bigotry.But while I disagree with the result to which the major-itys analysis leads it in this case, I think it more importantto point out that its analysis leads no further. The Courtdoes not have before it, and the logic of its opinion doesnot decide, the distinct question whether the States, in theexercise of their historic and essential authority to definethe marital relation,
ante
, at 18, may continue to utilizethe traditional definition of marriage.The majority goes out of its way to make this explicit inthe penultimate sentence of its opinion. It states that[t]his opinion and its holding are confined to those lawfulmarriages,
ante
, at 26referring to same-sex marriagesthat a State has already recognized as a result of the localcommunitys considered perspective on the historicalroots of the institution of marriage and its evolving un-derstanding of the meaning of equality.
 Ante,
at 20.J
USTICE
S
CALIA 
believes this is a bald, unreasoned dis-claime[r].
 Post
, at 22. In my view, though, the disclaimeris a logical and necessary consequence of the argumentthe majority has chosen to adopt. The dominant themeof the majority opinion is that the Federal Governmentsintrusion into an area central to state domestic relationslaw applicable to its residents and citizens is sufficientlyunusual to set off alarm bells.
 Ante
, at 17, 20. I thinkthe majority goes off course, as I have said, but it is unde-niable that its judgment is based on federalism.The majority extensively chronicles DOMAs departurefrom the normal allocation of responsibility between State
 
 
3Cite as: 570 U. S. ____ (2013)R
OBERTS
, C. J., dissenting
and Federal Governments, emphasizing that DOMA re- jects the long-established precept that the incidents, bene-fits, and obligations of marriage are uniform for all marriedcouples within each State.
 Ante,
at 18. But there isno such departure when one State adopts or keeps a defi-nition of marriage that differs from that of its neighbor,for it is entirely expected that state definitions wouldvary, subject to constitutional guarantees, from one Stateto the next.
Ibid
. Thus, while [t]he States power indefining the marital relation is of central relevance to themajoritys decision to strike down DOMA here,
ibid.
, thatpower will come into play on the other side of the board infuture cases about the constitutionality of state marriagedefinitions. So too will the concerns for state diversity andsovereignty that weigh against DOMAs constitutionalityin this case. See
ante,
at 19.It is not just this central feature of the majoritys analy-sis that is unique to DOMA, but many considerations onthe periphery as well. For example, the majority focuseson the legislative history and title of this particular Act,
ante
, at 21; those statute-specific considerations will, of course, be irrelevant in future cases about different stat-utes. The majority emphasizes that DOMA was a system-wide enactment with no identified connection to anyparticular area of federal law, but a States definition of marriage is the foundation of the States broader author-ity to regulate the subject of domestic relations with re-spect to the [p]rotection of offspring, property interests,and the enforcement of marital responsibilities.
 Ante
, at22, 17. And the federal decision undermined (in the ma- joritys view) the dignity [already] conferred by the Statesin the exercise of their sovereign power,
ante
, at 21,whereas a States decision whether to expand the defini-tion of marriage from its traditional contours involves nosimilar concern.We may in the future have to resolve challenges to state

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