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United States v. Windsor

Citation. 570 U.S. __, 133 S.Ct. 2675, 186 L.Ed.2d 808 (2013).
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Citation. 570 U.S. __, 133 S.Ct. 2675, 186 L.Ed.2d 808 (2013).

Brief Fact Summary.

Plaintiff challenged federal law which defined marriage as between one man and one woman as husband and wife on Fifth Amendment Due Process grounds.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person.


Plaintiff and her wife married in Canada. The wife died, leaving her estate to Plaintiff. Plaintiff sought to claim to claim the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses but was denied because of DOMA, which did not recognize same-sex partners as spouses. Plaintiff paid the taxes, but filed suit challenging the constitutionality of DOMA, arguing it violated the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.


Whether DOMA violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.


Yes. DOMA violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.


Justice Roberts

I agree with J. Scalia. Additionally, the majority seems to think the Act’s principal purpose is to codify malice, I would not tar the political branches with the brush of bigotry. The Court has also not answered how this logic will be applied state marriage definitions.

Justice Scalia

The Court has no power to decide this case because Plaintiff won below and is cured of injury. Even if we had the power to decide this case, we have no power under the Constitution to overturn the will of democratically adopted legislation.

If this is meant to be an equal protection opinion, it is a confusing one. It does not the issue over the proper standard of review. It is one thing for a society to elect change, it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it as enemies of the human race.

Justice Alito

Same-sex marriage presents a highly emotional and important question of public policy but not a difficult question of constitutional law. The Constitution does not guarantee the right to enter a same-sex marriage. Leave it to the people to decide.

All DOMA does is define a class of persons to whom federal law extends certain special benefits. It does not encroach on the prerogatives on the states.


DOMA impacts a class of persons that many state have sought to protect. By history and tradition, the definition and regulation of marriage has been treated as being within the authority and realm of the separate states. DOMA departs from this history and tradition of reliance on state law to define marriage. It writes inequality into the entire United State Code.

DOMA‘s principal effect is to identify a subset of state sanctioned marriages and make them unequal. the principal purpose is to impose inequality, not for other reasons like government efficiency. DOMA is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the state has sought to protect. Judgement affirmed.

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