Lawyers for House Republicans on Friday filed an appeal to the Supreme Court seeking to overturn a lower court decision that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, says Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office.
“Today, Speaker (John) Boehner and House Republicans decided to waste more taxpayer funds to advance a position rejected by four different courts and to defend discrimination and inequality before the highest court in the land,” said Pelosi, D-Calif., in a statement from her office.
There was no immediate comment from Boehner’s office.
Specifically, Pelosi’s office said the mattter being challenged in the appeal is a ruling from the First Circuit Court of Appeals involving the cases Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. Department of Health & Human Services.
On May 31, the circuit court in those cases upheld a lower court finding that the act that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman for the purposes of all federal laws, rules and regulations was unconstitutional. Enacted in 1996, DOMA has been interpreted to make same-sex spouses ineligible for federal marriage-related benefits.
Pelosi’s statement on Friday said the decision to file a petition with the Supreme Court came at the direction of Boehner and the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group.
The legal wrangling over the act began to accelerate last year with the announcement by the Obama administration that it would no longer defend DOMA in court. That decision led Boehner to begin utilizing decisions by the five-member advisory group -- which is controlled 3-2 by Republicans -- to instead carry out the legal defense of DOMA. House Democrats have been criticizing House GOP officials for what they say is the costly hiring Paul Clement, a former U.S. Solicitor General, to spearhead that defense.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department has filed legal briefs in favor of lawsuits against DOMA.
More than 130 House Democrats had joined in amicus brief in the Gill case before the First Circuit appellate court, arguing DOMA is unconstitutional. To date, Boehner has intervened in 14 DOMA cases at taxpayer expense and lost four, says Pelosi’s office.
In her statement Friday, Pelosi said, “We believe there is no federal interest in denying LGBT couples the same rights and responsibilities afforded to all couples married under state law. And we are confident that the Supreme Court, if it considers the case, will declare DOMA unconstitutional and relegate it to the dustbin of history once and for all.”
She added, “Republicans know that DOMA is constitutionally suspect; in fact, House Republicans actually passed a bill a few years ago to strip federal courts of jurisdiction to consider DOMA’s constitutionality. In contrast, House Democrats have defended the independence of the federal judiciary and the role of judicial review."