Donald Verrilli Jr.

About On Schedule

Contemplation of Justice

The marriage bans challenged in these cases impermissibly exclude lesbian and gay couples from the rights, responsibilities, and status of civil marriage. These facially discriminatory laws impose concrete harms on same-sex couples and send the inescapable message that same-sex couples and their children are second-class families, unworthy of the recognition and benefits that opposite-sex couples take for granted. The bans cannot be reconciled with the fundamental constitutional guarantee of “equal protection of the laws,” U.S. Const. Amend. XIV.

Donald B. Verrilli, Jr.

Or perhaps simply an overview from Ryan J. Reilly of Huffington Post:

The Obama administration thinks the Supreme Court should rule that state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, according to a brief filed by Justice Department lawyers on Friday. The administration takes the position that those laws violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

The amicus brief urges the Supreme Court to find such bans “incompatible with the Constitution” because they “exclude a long-mistreated class of human beings from a legal and social status of tremendous import.”

The court will hear oral arguments in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges in April.

Honestly, the only surprise here is that now we need to figure out whence came the notion this one was going forward under DeBoer, the case out of Michigan.

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Verrilli Jr., Donald B. “Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae Supporting Petitioners”. Obergefell v. Hodges. Supreme Court fo the United States. March, 2015.

Reilly, Ryan J. “Gay Marriage Bans Are Unconstitutional, DOJ Tells Supreme Court”. The Huffington Post. 6 March 2015.

The One About How Nine Justices Walk Into a Bar ….

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia testifies before the House Judiciary Committee's Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee on Capitol Hill May 20, 2010 in Washington, DC. Scalia and fellow Associate Justice Stephen Breyer testified to the subcommittee about the Administrative Conference of the United States. (Photo: Stephen A. Masker)

“Congratulations, Congress, you’ve literally sunk to the level of a punch line.”

Steve Benen

The proposition that Congress is a punch line strikes few as new material. Even the idea that a Solicitor General would take the shot is not so strange. Yet Steve Benen makes the point about Justice Scalia’s blithe view of the 114th Congress:

Scalia wasn’t kidding. “I don’t care what Congress you’re talking about,” he added. “If the consequences are as disastrous as you say, so many million people ­­ without insurance and whatnot – yes, I think this Congress would act.”

On a purely theoretical level, this is not ridiculous. Major new laws have routinely needed minor technical fixes for generations, and many of these corrections are intended to bring clarity to ambiguous phrases. Under normal circumstances, the King v. Burwell case wouldn’t even exist because Congress would have clarified the ACA structure years ago.

And, again in theory, if the Supreme Court were to decide in this case that the statute needs clarification, a sane, mature, responsible legislative branch would simply add a few words to the ACA law and ensure that consumers receive the same insurance subsidies they’re receiving now.

But that’s all the more reason to understand exactly why Scalia is wrong.

Perhaps it is Justice Scalia who is the punch line. Then again, neither is that news.

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