First Signs of DOJ stopping its defense of the indefensible?

Just a short breaking news item here via the Wonk Room.  I’m personally hoping this is the first sign the DOJ will stop defending indefensible  policies.

Moments ago, in a sharp reversal of policy, the Obama administration announced that it believes that Section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) — which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages — is unconstitutional and will ask the Justice Department to stop defending the law. In a press release announcing the change, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder also argues that laws regarding sexual orientation should be subject to a higher level of review:

Section 3 of DOMA has now been challenged in the Second Circuit, however, which has no established or binding standard for how laws concerning sexual orientation should be treated. In these cases, the Administration faces for the first time the question of whether laws regarding sexual orientation are subject to the more permissive standard of review or whether a more rigorous standard, under which laws targeting minority groups with a history of discrimination are viewed with suspicion by the courts, should apply.

After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny. The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional. Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases. I fully concur with the President’s determination.

Consequently, the Department will not defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA as applied to same-sex married couples in the two cases filed in the Second Circuit. We will, however, remain parties to the cases and continue to represent the interests of the United States throughout the litigation.

15 Comments on “First Signs of DOJ stopping its defense of the indefensible?”

  1. Peggy Sue says:

    Obama could have done this two years ago. But we’re told he’s been “grappling” with the issue.

    What a ‘Decider’ this man is.

    Most likely, he put his finger to the wind and decided he might need the gay vote in 2012.

    Color me ‘not’ impressed. But if expediency gets the job done then I’m more than willing to pitch a hooray for a civil rights win. Better late than never, I guess.

    • I’ll be impressed when Obama and his Admin actually supports something (or opposes it) and stands by it. Usually if Obama says he supports something, you can count on that to mean he’s going to hang that cause or group out to dry at some point. And, vice versa for what he says he opposes. So if this is a genuine start of a reversal, then fantastic and good on Obama DOJ, but if it’s just more in a Series of Indecisive Stances, then O can suck it.

      • dakinikat says:

        I’m waiting for some justice on the torture suits.

      • Justice on torture suits… from the Admin of Reagan reincarnated who has silenced the left? Where the hell is all the pushback from the antiwar/antitorture/civil liberties Left? They were roaring by the end of Bush, and then poof.

        Be sure to breathe while waiting 🙂

  2. bostonboomer says:

    A Massachusetts judge already found DOMA unconstitutional, thanks to a suit by MA Atty Gen. Martha Coakley.

    I’m glad the UN justice dept has dropped their appeal of that decision.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    For once, the DOJ did something right.

  4. foxyladi14 says:


  5. Branjor says:

    Great, but what does this mean?

    We will, however, remain parties to the cases and continue to represent the interests of the United States throughout the litigation.

  6. Kat, thanks for getting this up so quickly btw! I’m really skeptical of this at this point bc I got excited about the repeal of DADT only to find out that it was more symbolic than in deed at this point… I’m just feeling burnt. But, I really hope this is the first signs of a grave being dug for defense of the indefensible!

  7. Ok so reading up on this… they think DOMA can’t be defended anymore but they’re still going to enforce it? Is this correct? WTF?