Edie Windsor wants to take case against DOMA to the Supreme Court
July 16, 2012
Earlier today, attorneys for Edie Windsor petitioned the Supreme Court to review the 83-year-old widow's legal challenge to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. Windsor, a lesbian from New York, is suing the government for the $363,000 in estate taxes that she was forced to pay under DOMA following the death of her late partner Thea Spyer in 2010. Windsor and Spyer were together for more than 40 years and wed in Canada in 2007. Their marriage was recognized in their home state of New York, but because of DOMA, was unrecognized by the federal government.
Had Windsor been married to a man, she would not have paid estate taxes, leading her attorneys to argue that DOMA is a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Jones ruled in Windsor v. United States that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional.
The petition was filed today by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Windsor and would move the case past the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, where Windsor v. United States was scheduled to be heard next. Noting her client's age and health, attorney Roberta Kaplan explains why her legal team is petitioning the Supreme Court to review Windsor's case:
"Edie and Thea were together for more than four decades and truly lived the words 'in sickness and in health, until death do us part.' Solely because of DOMA, Edie had to pay more than $363,000 in federal estate tax, which is one of the most significant adverse impacts of DOMA. Edie, who just turned 83, suffers from a chronic heart condition. The constitutional injury inflicted on Edie should be remedied within her lifetime.”
Windsor v. United States is now one of three DOMA-related cases pending before the Supreme Court. DOMA challenges could be heard by the Supreme Court as early as Spring 2013, should the Court choose to accept them. You can read more about on-going legal cases challenging DOMA here.