GOP House leaders to request Supreme Court to hear DOMA appeal

Yesterday, Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives signaled that the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group will be asking the Supreme Court by the end of June to hear a case concerning the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the law that prohibits federal recognition of legal marriages between same-sex couples. BLAG will specifically be requesting the Court to overturn the May 31 federal appeals court ruling in Massachusetts v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

BLAG asked the Court to put another DOMA case, Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management, on hold, asking that the Court take one DOMA case and rule on it, which would effectively decide the constitutionality of DOMA's Section 3 in a number of other cases currently being tried and appealed. Section 3 of DOMA defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, and the clause has been ruled unconstitutional in three separate court cases since May. 

Chris Geidner at Metro Weekly explains how the case could proceed:

Most legal experts have suggested that timeline in discussions about the Massachusetts case, which was brought by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, and was heard and decided alongside another case, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, which was brought by GLAD. That timeline would result in a decision likely by no later than this month in 2013.

Of course, the Supreme Court first would have to decide to take the case.

After BLAG files its petition, other parties have 30 days to file their view. The GLAD plaintiffs, Massachusetts, the Department of Justice and other interested individuals and organizations will be able to give their input as to whether the court should take the case. The court then will consider whether it wants to take the case, a question most scholars expect it to answer in the affirmative as the constitutionality of a federal statute is at issue. It could, however, hold the case in order to await a decision on one of the further DOMA challenges.

BLAG - led by the Speaker of the House, Republican John Boehner - has been focused on defending DOMA since President Barack Obama and his Department of Justice have declared it unconstitutional and said they they will stop defending it in Court