On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in favor and against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 Act of Congress that defined marriage on a federal level as being between and man and a woman.
The plaintiff before the court today was Edith Windsor, who was forced to pay inheritance tax on her deceased partner’s estate because their marriage was not recognized under the law. Arguing alongside Windsor’s attorney was Solicitor General Donald Verrilli.
The Republican-led “The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group” from the U.S. House of Representatives defended the law. Harvard professor Vicki Jackson argued that the group has no jurisdiction to defend the law in court.
Some highlights from this morning’s testimony included Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg saying that DOMA creates two kinds of marriage in the U.S., “full marriage” and “skim milk marriage.”
Justice Anthony Kennedy said that a federal law that does not recognize legal same sex marriages from the states that allow them is going to create conflicts.
Bloomberg Businessweek wrote, “‘You are at real risk of running in conflict’ with the ‘essence’ of state powers, Kennedy said.”
Kennedy told attorney Paul Clement, who was representing the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group that he sees “illogic in your argument” on behalf of DOMA.
Oral arguments ended shortly after noon on Wednesday. DOMA’s defenders declined to speak to the press after the session.
Some have interpreted Kennedy’s skeptical remarks as evidence that DOMA will be struck down, but given the complexity of the issue, and the court’s seeming disinterest in sullying itself with such a highly charged social issue on Tuesday, it could be considered a waste of time to try and predict the fate of the 17-year-old law.
Listen to audio of today’s arguments embedded below via Buzzfeed:
Read the transcript, embedded below via Scribd: