Supreme Court strikes down Defense of Marriage Act

Today, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in a 5-4 vote, saying it is unconstitutional.

“By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in his dissent that these sorts of decisions should not be left to the Supreme Court. He thinks that in this case, there is not enough controversy or conflict to actually require a ruling from the court.

The actual case, United States v. Windsor, was brought to the court by Edith Windsor, whose wife, Thea Spyer, died in 2009. Windsor and Spyer were married in 2007 in Canada, and when Spyer died, Windsor was forced to pay $363,053 in estate tax. Windsor argued that if she were Spyer’s husband, she wouldn’t have had to pay that tax. The ruling today means that she will not have to pay.