Hollingsworth v. Perry
Certiorari to the United States court of appeals for the ninth circuit
No. 12-144. Argued March 26, 2013- Decided June 26, 2013
After proposition 8 was passed, same-sex couples filed a suit in federal court, challenging it under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. After the trial, the court declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The state did not want to defend the proposition so the petitioners appealed, and the court held that the petitioners had standing to defend Proposition 8 under federal law. This decision lead to an appeal to the supreme court of the United States.
Opinion: The main issue at hand was whether or not California could reverse its same-sex marriage law through referendum and whether the Equal Protection Clause makes the proposition 8 unconstitutional. Because the case included sexual orientation, the court had to use heightened scrutiny. With the opinion delivered by Chief Justice Roberts, the court held that because petitioners have not satisfied their burden to demonstrate standing to appeal to the District Court, the Ninth Circuit court did not have jurisdiction to appeal the case, therefore the district court’ decision is upheld and proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
United States v. Windsor
Certiorari to the United States Court of appeals for the second circuit
No. 12-307 Argued March 27, 2013- Decided June 26, 2013
In this case, the State of New York recognized the marriage of Edith Windsor and Thea Spyder, who got married in Ontario Canada. When Spyder died, she left her estate to Windsor, and when she went to claim the federal estate tax exemption for survival spouses, she was denied these benefits under the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which excludes federal benefits to same-sex couples. She paid a large amount of money in estate tax and was asking the IRS to return the money under the exemption she was eligible for, the IRS denied her claim and she filed suit claiming that DOMA violates the principles of the Equal Protection Clause.
Opinion: Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion and statesd that DOMA “rejects the long-established precept that the incidents, benefits, and obligations of marriage are uniform for all married couples within each State.” Ante, at 18. The court recognized that states laws regarding marriage were being harmed by DOMA, therefore it lacked jurisdiction.