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U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Defense of Marriage Act
- Client News
- June 26, 2013
Paul, Weiss client Edith Windsor won a landmark ruling from the Supreme Court in her challenge of the constitutionality of section three of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In a 5-4 decision, the Court, per Justice Kennedy, ruled that the federal government cannot discriminate against married lesbian and gay couples for the purposes of determining federal benefits and protections.
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, solely as a result of DOMA, which defines marriage as between only one man and one woman for the purposes of federal law. Had Ms. Windsor been married to a man, she would not have had to pay any federal estate tax at all.
In June 2012, Judge Barbara Jones of the SDNY held that DOMA violates equal protection and is unconstitutional. The Second Circuit then affirmed the district court's ruling, in October 2012, in a majority opinion written by Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs.
The Paul, Weiss team representing Edith Windsor included litigation partners Roberta Kaplan, Andrew Ehrlich, Walter Rieman and Craig Benson and associates Janna Berke, Zachary Dietert, Julie Fink, Jaren Janghorbani, Josh Kaye, Alexia Koritz, Nila Merola, Melissa Monteleone, Ralia Polechronis, Davin Rosborough and Jacobus "Janus" Schutte; personal representation partner Alan Halperin and associate Christopher Hurtado; tax partner Richard Bronstein and associate Colin Kelly; corporate counsel Claudine Meredith-Goujon as well as a number of former associates and current and former summer associates.