June 13, 2012
By Scottie Thomaston
In Golinski v. OPM, District Court Judge Jeffrey White struck down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. The case is currently on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In Judge White’s ruling, he said that the legislative history of DOMA is “replete with expressed animus” toward people who are gay and lesbian. This is important, since several Supreme Court cases have held that animus is not a rational basis for a law.
Ten United States Senators are unhappy with this part of the ruling, even though the opinion cites actual examples of statements from the record. They’ve filed an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit taking issue with any suggestion that anti-gay animus or bias played a role in passage of the law:
With the Justice Department declining to defend the law, the GOP-controlled House has stepped in to appeal, filing a nuts-and-bolts-type brief earlier this month. But on Monday the 10 GOP senators filed an amicus with a bit more ad hominem flavor.
Nothing in Supreme Court jurisprudence, the senators contend, “authorizes a court to strike down an otherwise constitutional law based on the belief that legislators individually, or the Congress as a whole, were motivated by ‘animus,’” states the brief, which is signed by Michael Stern of Fairfax, Va.
“Judicial ‘psychoanalysis’ of legislative motives, to use Justice Cardozo’s phrase, is a highly subjective exercise, which threatens needless friction between the branches,” the brief continues. “Scouring the congressional record for ‘sound-bites’ to divine and disparage the motives of individual legislators also chills the freedom of legislative speech that is the hallmark of robust democratic debate.”
In a footnote, the senators added that they didn’t appreciate White’s comparison of the arguments for DOMA with historical arguments against interracial marriage, either.
The senators who signed on to the brief were Orrin Hatch, along with “Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Dan Coats of Indiana, Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Charles Grassley of Iowa, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Richard Shelby of Alabama.”
Golinski v. OPM will be argued the week of September 10-14.