Justice Ginsburg Predicts Defense of Marriage Act Headed to Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said during a University of Colorado Law School event on Wednesday that she believes the much-talked about Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will go all the way to the Supreme Court by next year.

The Act, which was signed in 1996 by former President Bill Clinton, sought to preserve the traditional definition of marriage, but it has been declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in New York. Oral arguments on the issue are scheduled for Sept. 27 at the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but many believe it will go to the highest court in the country.

"I think it's most likely that we will have that issue before the court toward the end of the current term," Ginsburg said in her Colorado address. Her response came in light of a student-submitted question, but she noted that she could not discuss matters that are likely to come up at court.

Currently, same-sex marriage is decided on a state level, and while most U.S. territories preserve traditional marriage, eight states have approved it, with a number of votes on the legalization of gay marriage coming to several states later this year.

Back in July, lawyers for the House of Representatives also challenged a ruling by a court in Boston in May that said DOMA was unconstitutional, specifically the Section 3 provision that prohibits the federal government from providing equal protection and federal benefits to same-sex couples and heterosexual couples.

"Section 3 of DOMA simply asserts the federal government's right as a separate sovereign to provide its own definition which 'governs only federal programs and funding,'" the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) wrote on the case.

"Congress, of course, did not invent the meanings of 'marriage' and 'spouse' in 1996. Rather, DOMA merely reaffirmed and codified the traditional definition of marriage, i.e., what Congress itself has always meant – and what courts and the executive branch have always understood it to mean," the group added."

The current White House administration led by President Barack Obama said in Feb. 2011 that it could no longer insist on defending the Defense of Marriage Act, and Obama himself declared his personal support for same-sex marriage in an interview in May.

Ginsburg, who was appointed to the Supreme Court by Clinton in 1993, focused most of the rest of her speech on women's rights and gaining recognition in the American judicial and political system, the Denver Post noted.

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