SCOTUS Decides Marriage Cases: DOMA Unconstitutional

On the last day of the Term, the Supreme Court released all the remaining cases it had heard argument on during the October 2012 Term. As expected, these included the two cases related to same-sex marriage. The cases were:

United States v. Windsor: In a 5-4 decision, Justice Kennedy writing for the majority, the Court held that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates due process and equal principles principles of the 5th Amendment that apply to the federal government; this is a major victory for same-sex couples who are legally married under the law of their states but subjected to discriminatory treatment under federal law in areas such as income and estate taxes, immigration and Social Security benefits. The dissenting opinions were written by Roberts, Scalia and Alito.

Hollingsworth v. Perry: In another 5-4 opinion, concerning a challenge to the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, the Court determined that petitioners (Prop 8 proponents) did not have standing to appeal the order of the District Court that declared Propisition 8 unconstitutional. The majority opinion was by Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justices Scalia, Ginsburg, Breyer and Kagan. It orders the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss the appeal from the District Court’s order. Pending proceedings consistent today’s opinion, this ruling apparently means that same-sex couples will be allowed to legally marry in California. Justice Kennedy dissented, joined by Justices Thomas, Alito and Sotomayor.

SCOTUSBlog’s Lyle Denniston provides this early summary of what the opinions do and don’t do.

In the third case released on Wednesday, Sekhar v. U.S., the court concluded that attempting to compel a person to recommend that his employer approve an investment does not constitute “the obtaining of property from another” under the Hobbs Act. All justices supported the conclusion. The lead opinion was written by Justice Scalia; Justice Alito’s concurring opinion was joined by Justices Kennedy and Sotomayor.

Some 300,000 readers were online to follow live-blogging from the Court by SCOTUSBlog this morning.