As has been widely reported by The New York Times, the
New York Law Journal, The Wall Street Journal and
other outlets, Paul, Weiss client Edith Windsor won a landmark
ruling from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in her challenge of
the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The
Second Circuit affirmed the decision of Southern District Court
Judge Barbara Jones, holding that the law is unconstitutional on
equal protection grounds, with Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs writing
the majority opinion. Ms. Windsor shared 44 years with her late
spouse, Thea Spyer, but was forced to pay more than $360,000 in
federal estate taxes because the federal government refused to
recognize their marriage after Ms. Spyer's death in 2009 solely as
a result of DOMA. Had Ms. Windsor been married to a man, she would
not have had to pay any federal estate tax at all.
The Second Circuit's opinion finding that DOMA is
unconstitutional marks the first time a federal appeals court has
held that laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation should
be subjected to heightened judicial scrutiny. The Solicitor General
and Ms. Windsor have asked the Supreme Court to grant petitions for
certiorari in her case.
The Paul, Weiss team includes litigation partners Roberta
Kaplan, Andrew Ehrlich, Walter Rieman
Benson; personal representation partner Alan
Halperin; and tax partner Richard Bronstein.