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As Counsel to Edith Windsor, Paul, Weiss Contends That DOMA Is Unconstitutional Before the United States Supreme Court
- Client News
- March 27, 2013
Paul, Weiss represents Edith ("Edie") Windsor in her historic lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Litigation partner Roberta Kaplan argued the case before the United States Supreme Court on March 27, urging the Justices to affirm the decision of the Second Circuit below.
Ms. Windsor spent 44 years together 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 solely because of DOMA. Had Ms. Windsor been married to a man, rather than a woman, she would not have had to pay any federal estate tax at all.
As a result of the Windsor case, the President and the U.S. Department of Justice announced that they would no longer defend the constitutionality of DOMA. In June 2012, a court in the Southern District of New York held that section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional. On October 18, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed that decision, holding for the first time at the Circuit level that laws like DOMA that discriminate against gay men and lesbians should be subject to heightened judicial scrutiny.
Paul, Weiss, which handles this matter pro bono, represents Ms. Windsor together with the American Civil Liberties Union, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the Stanford Law School Supreme Court Litigation Clinic.
The Paul, Weiss team included litigation partners Roberta Kaplan, Andrew Ehrlich, Walter Rieman and Craig Benson; litigation associates Janna Berke, Melissa Cheng, Zachary Dietert, Julie Fink, Jaren Janghorbani, Josh Kaye, Alexia Koritz, Nila Merola, Davin Rosborough and Jacobus "Janus" Schutte; personal representation partner Alan Halperin and associate Christopher Hurtado; tax partner Richard Bronstein and associate Colin Kelly; and entertainment counsel Carol Kaplan.