Another federal appeals court: DOMA unconstitutional

2nd Circuit Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs
2nd Circuit Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs

In May, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. This morning, yet another federal appeals bench reached the same conclusion.

A federal appeals court in Manhattan has become the second in the nation to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling Thursday. The decision upholds a lower court judge who ruled that the 1996 law that defines marriage as involving a man and a woman was unconstitutional. The three-judge panel says the law violates equal protection.

The entire ruling is online here (pdf).

There’s a particular interest in the judges issuing these ruling, in large part because their ideology would seem to point in a less progressive direction. At the 1st Circuit, for example, the decision was written by Judge Mike Boudin, a traditional conservative appointed by George H.W. Bush, who was the deputy assistant Attorney General in the Reagan administration.

At the 2nd Circuit, the ruling was written by Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs, widely seen as a very conservative jurist. Ian Millhiser, noting today’s ruling, added, “Jacobs is not simply saying that DOMA imposes unique and unconstitutional burdens on gay couples, he is saying that any attempt by government to discriminate against gay people must have an ‘exceedingly persuasive’ justification.”

It is widely assumed that the matter will be ultimately be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court. For now, however, it’s another legal victory for proponents of marriage equality.