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DOMA decision in Mass AG case

DOMA decision in Mass AG case

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Published by JoeSudbay
Section 3 of DOMA declared unconstitutional on Tenth Amendment grounds.
Section 3 of DOMA declared unconstitutional on Tenth Amendment grounds.

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Published by: JoeSudbay on Jul 08, 2010
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06/10/2012

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1 U.S.C. § 7.
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Defendants in this action are the United States Department of Health and HumanServices, Kathleen Sebelius, in her official capacity as the Secretary of the Department of Healthand Human Services, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki, in hisofficial capacity as the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the United States of America. Hereinafter, this court collectively refers to the Defendants as “the government.”UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTDISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTSCOMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS,**Plaintiff,**v.*Civil Action No. 1:09-11156-JLT*UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH*AND HUMAN SERVICES; KATHLEEN*SEBELIUS, in her official capacity as the Secretary *of the United States Department of Health and*Human Services; UNITED STATES*DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS;*ERIC K. SHINSEKI, in his official capacity as the*Secretary of the United States Department of*Veterans Affairs; and the UNITED STATES OF*AMERICA,**Defendants.*MEMORANDUMJuly 8, 2010TAURO, J.I.IntroductionThis action presents a challenge to the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act
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as applied to Plaintiff, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (the“Commonwealth”).
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Specifically, the Commonwealth contends that DOMA violates the Tenth
Case 1:09-cv-11156-JLT Document 58 Filed 07/08/10 Page 1 of 36
 
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In the companion case of Gill et al. v. Office of Pers. Mgmt. et al.
 
, No. 09-cv-10309-JLT(D. Mass. July 8, 2010) (Tauro, J.), this court held that DOMA violates the equal protectionprinciples embodied in the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
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Defendants, with limited exception, concede the accuracy of Plaintiff’s Statement of Material Facts [#27]. Resp. to Pl.’s Stmt. Mat’l Facts, ¶¶ 1, 2. For that reason, for the purposesof this motion, this court accepts the factual representations propounded by Plaintiff, unlessotherwise noted.
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Pub. L. No. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419 (1996). Please refer to the background section of the companion case, Gill et al. v. Office of Pers. Mgmt. et al.
 
, No. 09-cv-10309-JLT (D. Mass.July 8, 2010) (Tauro, J.), for a more thorough review of the legislative history of this statute.
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1 U.S.C. § 7.2Amendment of the Constitution, by intruding on areas of exclusive state authority, as well as theSpending Clause, by forcing the Commonwealth to engage in invidious discrimination against itsown citizens in order to receive and retain federal funds in connection with two joint federal-stateprograms. Because this court agrees, Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss [#16] is DENIED andPlaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment [#26] is ALLOWED.
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II.Background
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A.The Defense of Marriage ActCongress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) in 1996, and President Clintonsigned it into law.
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The Commonwealth, by this lawsuit, challenges Section 3 of DOMA, whichdefines the terms “marriage” and “spouse,” for purposes of federal law, to include only the unionof one man and one woman. In pertinent part, Section 3 provides:In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, orinterpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the UnitedStates, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and onewoman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of theopposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”
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Case 1:09-cv-11156-JLT Document 58 Filed 07/08/10 Page 2 of 36
 
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Aff. of Jonathan Miller, Ex. 3, p. 1, Report of the U.S. General Accounting Office, Officeof General Counsel, January 23, 2004 (GAO-04-353R).
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Id. at 1.
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Aff. of Nancy Cott (hereinafter, “Cott Aff.”), ¶ 9. Nancy F. Cott, Ph.D., the JonathanTrumbull Professor of American History at Harvard University, submitted an affidavit on thehistory of the regulation of marriage in the United States, on which this court heavily relies.
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Id.
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Id., ¶ 10.3As of December 31, 2003, there were at least “a total of 1,138 federal statutory provisionsclassified to the United States Code in which marital status is a factor in determining or receivingbenefits, rights, and privileges,” according to estimates from the General Accounting Office.
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 These statutory provisions pertain to a variety of subjects, including, but not limited to SocialSecurity, taxes, immigration, and healthcare.
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B. The History of Marital Status Determinations in the United StatesState control over marital status determinations predates the Constitution. Prior to theAmerican Revolution, colonial legislatures, rather than Parliament, established the rules andregulations regarding marriage in the colonies.
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And, when the United States first declared itsindependence from England, the founding legislation of each state included regulations regardingmarital status determinations.
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In 1787, during the framing of the Constitution, the issue of marriage was not raised whendefining the powers of the federal government.
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At that time, “[s]tates had exclusive power overmarriage rules as a central part of the individual states’ ‘police power’—meaning theirresponsibility (subject to the requirements and protections of the federal Constitution) for the
Case 1:09-cv-11156-JLT Document 58 Filed 07/08/10 Page 3 of 36

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