Spring in Vermont

I’ve been gardening like crazy.  My husband and I have taken out 90% of what the previous owners had planted including the trees and have replaced them with lilacs, blueberry bushes, forsythia, and a serviceberry bush.  We also replaced two maples with a stewartia tree. (I put in a link because you probably never heard of one before. We hadn’t.)  Plus annuals and lots of perennials.  I figure that you can always take stuff out next year that doesn’t work.  All of this has helped take my mind off the mostly bad news that seems to keep coming.

Our young Stewartia tree with flowers.

Our young Stewartia tree with flowers.

Last week we caught a little break.  The Supreme Court made two decisions that, contrary to the dissenters, I think will be positive in the long run.  The first upheld the subsidies for the Affordable Care Act; the second, legalized marriage for everyone in all states.

Marriage equality began here in New England as all the local media have proudly told us.  Vermont legalized civil unions and Massachusetts was the first to sanction marriage.  As one news reader noted, “Today’s decision doesn’t really effect New England as same-sex marriage in already legal in all six states.”  That is a paraphrase, but a fact of which most New Englanders are very proud and contrasts to the defiant words from some of the Republican Presidential candidates.  Reminds me of the governors who wanted to stand in front of the school house door to prevent school integration.  Conservatives are always arguing that marriage leads to more stability so I can’t really understand why they aren’t pleased that more people will be getting married.

On the ACA, I wonder if some of the New England states like Vermont that are struggling with the necessary automation and connections to the federal exchange will just move to the federal exchange all together.  And I also wonder if states that never expanded Medicare will do so now.  But with Congressional leaders and most of the Republican Presidential candidates still hoping to repeal “Obamacare”, that is probably not likely.  In the meanwhile, more people are getting insurance and as they begin to get preventative care, costs should continue to drop.  Insurance companies, like most of us, like stability something the pro-repeal Republican should remember.

As spring slowly turns to summer here in Vermont, I’ve been thinking a lot about race.  As with many things we seem to be taking one step forward and two back.  Who would have predicted in 1964 that in 2015 we would need a new voting rights act?    Or that the unspoken racism of one of the major political parties would lead to a mass shooting in a black church?  Yes, I mean the Republican party with opposition to everything proposed by President Obama.  You can’t convince me that if the current Democratic president were someone like Jerry Brown or Tim Kaine opposition would be as virulent.  Race is at the core.  All those Senate Republicans who want to be president could prove me wrong by supporting the new voting rights legislation.  As the Washington Post pointed out, they once did so.

The Sunday after Charleston my husband and I drove down to Boston to attend church.  We wanted to attend his home church, an historically black church of which he became the first white member over twenty years ago.  The service is still traditionally African-American, but the worshippers are black, white, and Asian.  It was comforting to sit with people I have known for so many years as well as with the newcomers.  The young pastor spoke first about being “sick and tired of being sick and tired” and went on to talk about faith.  We were all given little packets of mustard seed by the children to remind us to keep the faith.  I’m finding that gardening is another way to find a measure of peace and faith that things change.  In the garden one can see the entire cycle:  planting, growth, blooms, death.  And then it begins again next spring.  We just need to keep the faith.

Photograph:  Bob Wyckoff

Judge Moore and Justice Thomas and marriage equality in Alabama

I guess that Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is taking his cues from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ dissent instead of from the actual ruling in which the majority of the United States Supreme Court refused to stay a District Court ruling that allowed the state to become the 37th state to allow same – sex marriages.  According to the Washington Post story, Justice Thomas wanted a stay.

The court is months away from hearing arguments in a landmark case about whether states are free to ban such unions. But Thomas said a majority of the justices may have already made up their minds, as reflected by the court’s “indecorous” decision Monday morning allowing same-sex marriages to proceed in Alabama.

“This acquiescence may well be seen as a signal of the Court’s intended resolution of that question,” Thomas wrote in a dissent from the court’s order refusing to stay the weddings. “This is not the proper way to discharge our . . . responsibilities.”

Thomas and his pal, Justice Scalia voted for a stay.  And I think he is probably right.  The more states that allow marriage equality and the more couples that marry, the harder it will be to overturn any lower court rulings.  It may turnout that the Supreme Court will “compromise” by letting the few states in which the Appeals Court has overturned lower court rulings that not allowing marriage equality violates either the state or U.S. Constitution, but I think they are headed for a Loving v. Virginia kind of decision.

However, Judge Moore appears to have decided that he’d rather go with Thomas than the actual ruling.  Judge Moore ordered Alabama probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  According to the Washington Post

Much of the legal uncertainty in Alabama over same-sex marriage centers on Roy Moore, chief justice of the state’s Supreme Court. On Sunday night,Moore told Alabama’s probate judges not to issue marriage licenses, defying a federal judge. This is not the first time Moore has refused to follow a federal judge’s ruling.

We all remember when Judge Moore refuse to remove that large stone Ten Commandments monument from the courthouse.  The Post explains

Until this week, Moore’s claim to fame was being the “Ten Commandments judge.” The controversy that led to Moore being ousted from the bench involved a large monument to the Ten Commandments that had been installed in the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery.

This two-and-a-half-ton monument, and Moore’s fight to keep it in place, served as a cultural flash point. Civil liberties groups argued that it violated the church-state separation, while conservative and religious supporters of Moore defended his actions.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State filed a lawsuitarguing that the monument violated the constitutional prohibition against religious endorsement. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit agreed, ordering Moore to remove the monument.

He was then removed from his judgeship by the state ethics panel, but was reelected in 2012.

2300alabama-ssm-0209

So as a result of Judge Moore deciding the Thomas dissent was better than the refusal to grant a stay, Alabama is in chaos.  There are now counties where no marriage licenses are being issued at all, some that are just refusing same-sex couples, and others who are complying with the district court.

There will be more lawsuits as people are denied the right to marry.  I wonder what Justice Thomas will do when the next appeal from Alabama reaches the Supreme Court, but I think the Alabama ethics panel will be having another hearing with Judge Moore.

The Supremes, Judge Posner, and gay marriage

The news late last week that the Supreme Court would hear an appeal from the Sixth Circuit ruling upholding bans on same-sex marriage in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee brought to mind the Seventh Circuit ruling last fall written by Judge Posner.  Mark Joseph Stern writing in Slate noted that suddenly there was a “race” among judges to …”write the one marriage equality opinion that history will remember.”  But Stern wrote

Thursday’s ruling by 7th Circuit Judge Richard Posner, which struck down Indiana’s and Wisconsin’s gay marriage bans, is a different beast altogether. In his opinion, Posner does not sound like a man aiming to have his words etched in the history books or praised by future generations. Rather, he sounds like a man who has listened to all the arguments against gay marriage, analyzed them cautiously and thoroughly, and found himself absolutely disgusted by their sophistry and rank bigotry. The opinion is a masterpiece of wit and logic that doesn’t call attention to—indeed, doesn’t seem to care about—its own brilliance. Posner is not writing for Justice Anthony Kennedy, or for judges of the future, or even for gay people of the present. He is writing, very clearly, for himself.

Ironically, by writing an opinion so fixated on the facts at hand, Posner may have actually written the one gay marriage ruling that the Supreme Court takes to heart.Other, more legacy-minded judges have attempted to sketch out a revised framework for constitutional marriage equality, granting gay people heightened judicial scrutiny and declaring marriage a fundamental right. But Posner isn’t interested in making new law: The statutes before him are so irrational, so senseless and unreasonable, that they’re noxious to the U.S. Constitution under almost anyinterpretation of the equal protection clause.

I spent time this morning reading Judge Poster’s opinion.  It is readable and understandable even by non-lawyers.  He takes each argument made by Indiana and then Wisconsin against same-sex marriage one at a time and uses precedent, social science, and history to demolish them.  Posner sets out to answer four questions.

Does the challenged practice involve discrimination, rooted in a history of prejudice, against some identifiable group of persons, resulting in unequal treatment harmful to them?

Is the unequal treatment based on some immutable or at least tenacious characteristic of the people discriminated against (biological, such as skin color, or a deep psychological commitment, as religious belief often is, both types being distinct from characteristics that are easy for a person to change, such as the length of his or her fingernails)? The characteristic must be one that isn’t relevant to a person’s ability to participate in society.

Does the discrimination, even if based on an immutable characteristic, nevertheless confer an important offsetting benefit on society as a whole?

Though it does confer an offsetting benefit, is the discriminatory policy overinclusive because the benefit it confers on society could be achieved in a way less harmful to the discriminated-against group, or underinclusive because the government’s purported rationale for the policy implies that it should equally apply to other groups as well?

Throughout his decision, Judge Posner concentrates on children and marriage.  The same persons who argue against same-sex marriage are often the same persons who argue that the state needs to encourage heterosexual marriage to provide stability to children.

Our pair of cases is rich in detail but ultimately straight- forward to decide. The challenged laws discriminate against a minority defined by an immutable characteristic, and the only rationale that the states put forth with any conviction— that same-sex couples and their children don’t need marriage because same-sex couples can’t produce children, intended or unintended—is so full of holes that it cannot be taken seriously. To the extent that children are better off in families in which the parents are married, they are better off whether they are raised by their biological parents or by adoptive parents. The discrimination against same-sex couples is irrational, and therefore unconstitutional even if the discrimination is not subjected to heightened scrutiny, which is why we can largely elide the more complex analysis found in more closely balanced equal-protection cases.

In Indiana a same-sex couple can adopt while in Wisconsin, one member of a same-sex couple can adopt.  So the logical conclusion is that marriage is just as important for same-sex couples with children as for heterosexual couples with families.  And he points out that those who say that same-sex marriage will some how erode or damage heterosexual marriage need only to look at the 10 year history in Massachusetts to see that there is no impact at all.

Judge Posner’s decision is full of “zingers” most aimed with impatience at irrational argument.  But he also takes aim at Justice Scalia citing his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas which struck down laws against sodomy.

…But Justice Scalia, in a dissenting opinion in Lawrence, 539 U.S. at 586, joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Thomas, thought not. He wrote that “principle and logic” would require the Court, given its decision in Lawrence, to hold that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Id. at 605.

In the end, Judge Posner can find no rational argument against same-sex marriage.

Pete Prete with Equality Beyond Gender waved a Marriage Pride flag attached to an American flag outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Friday.

Pete Prete with Equality Beyond Gender waved a Marriage Pride flag attached to an American flag outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Friday.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on two questions:  The right to marry and the right to have out-of-state marriages recognized.  Because there are four states in the appeal with four different questions, the Supreme Court in accepting the appeals wrote the questions they will try to answer.  Some in the legal community were alarmed, but the New York Times quotes Harvard Law professor, Lawrence Tribe

“The court’s order represents good housekeeping,” said Laurence H. Tribe, a law professor at Harvard.

But Professor Tribe also voiced a small note of caution.

“The rephrased questions,” he said, “technically leave open a middle path along which the court would prevent states from discriminating against same-sex couples lawfully married in their home states without requiring any state to take the affirmative step of issuing its own marriage licenses to same-sex couples.”

I haven’t seen the appeal documents, but if the arguments are anything like those from Indiana and Wisconsin and I assume they are as those are the arguments being made nationally, the Supreme Court need to look no further than Judge Posner’s decision for answers and require the right to marry in all states.  And, after all, Justice Scalia has already concluded that once sodomy laws are found unconstitutional, same-sex marriage must follow.  I predict a 7-2 decision in favor of the right to marry.  We will see in June if I am correct.

Photograph:  Jabin Botsford/The New York Times

Like a speeding locomotive

That’s the image that comes to mind when I think of how quickly things have moved when it comes to marriage equality.  It has only been 10 years since same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts.  And only a few years longer that that since Vermont adopted civil unions.  For a while I was keeping track and blogging every time a state was added, but I just couldn’t keep up – or keep track.  Now Federal benefits are available to all legally married couples regardless of the state in which they reside and the Supreme Court is letting stand Appeals Court decisions ruling prohibitions unconstitutional.

According to a post in the Washington Post’s “The Fix”, most gay Americans now live in states with marriage equality.

As the map of where gay marriage is legal has shifted and changed over the past few years, we’ve tracked a harder-to-measure component of the new laws: How many gay Americans live in states that allow them to marry.

In June, we anticipated that the tipping point was imminent. Based on data from Gallup surveys in 2012, a higher percentage of the country’s gay population already lived in gay-marriage-legal states than the population on the whole. With Monday’s Supreme Court non-decision, the percentage of gay Americans and Americans on the whole living in states where gay marriage is legal topped 50 percent.

Gay Marriage map

I am unclear as to how Gallup determined the percentage of person living in a state who were gay or lesbian, but given the way Gallup polls, I assume it is by self-reporting in response to a question.  According to the Fix, marriage equality has arrived in states with a lower population of gay residents.

So what happens next is anyone’s guess but with the growing numbers of same-sex marriages, I’m not sure how a Supreme Court ruling to the contrary could be implemented without chaos.  A more likely scenario is a decision like the one in Loving v. Virginia.  When the Court finally ruled on interracial marriage, the majority of states already allowed such unions.

This does not mean that the opposition will not fight on.  A story in the New York Times today reported that

Leading opponents of same-sex marriage vowed on Wednesday to push ahead with their legal fight, noting that several federal appeals courts had not yet ruled on the issue and that the Supreme Court could still decide to leave it up to the states.

Even as the list of states authorizing same-sex marriage swells, the opponents noted Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s order on Wednesday totemporarily block a federal appeals court ruling striking down the marriage restrictions in Idaho. The temporary order came as a surprise to many advocates on both sides of the issue, since the Supreme Court on Monday had allowed similar decisions from three other appeals courts to take effect.

“The marriage battle will continue,” said Jim Campbell, a senior legal counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal group that has defended marriage restrictions in several states.

Opponents seem determined that each state should have a right to define its marriage laws, but that just doesn’t seem likely to me given the Loving decision as a precedent.

“If the liberals on the court had the votes to declare same-sex marriage a constitutional right, why didn’t they take any of the cases on offer Monday?” asked Brian Brown, the president of the National Organization for Marriage.

“That gives hope that the Supreme Court will not launch another Roe v. Wade,” Mr. Brown said, referring to the 1973 decision legalizing abortion nationwide.

Mr. Brown also rejected the argument that, once same-sex marriages had been allowed in many states, the law could not be rolled back if the voters wanted to do so.

But most legal experts drew the opposite conclusion from Monday’s action.

“We know, from the court’s willingness Monday to allow all these marriages to go forward,” that opponents of same-sex marriage “are virtually guaranteed to lose” before the current Supreme Court, said Michael C. Dorf, a constitutional expert at Cornell Law School.

In the meanwhile, I have friends getting married, both same-sex and opposite sex.  I also have friends in both categories who have or are getting divorced.  All people want is to live their own lives and to have the legal protections due them.  I think the opposition needs to get out of the way of the speeding locomotive.

Map:  The Washington Post

 

 

Gay rights and the Supremes

Justice Antonin Scalia has made it clear that he is, at best, uncomfortable with the series of decisions made by the Supreme Court on gay rights.  Soon after the decisions last June on DOMA and Prop 8,  Asawin Suebaeug wrote an article for Mother Jones in which the best and worst parts of his dissents were highlighted. 

Justice Antonin Scalia is not a big fan of gay sex, gay marriage, or gay anything. His dissent to Wednesday’s decision on United States v. Windsor, in which the Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, that legally married same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as straight ones, shows as much. (The high court’s ruling invalidates a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act that barred same-sex couples from receiving health, tax, and retirement benefits.) In a nutshell, Scalia’s dissent focuses on the court’s prime purpose and power, and he is aghast that the majority assumed the power to shoot down DOMA. (To read the seven worst things Scalia has said or written about homosexuality, click here.)

And Andy Borowitz has made a cottage industry out of zinging him including “Scalia Arrested Trying to Burn Down the Supreme Court”.

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a shocking end to an illustrious legal career, police arrested Justice Antonin Scalia today as he attempted to set the Supreme Court building ablaze.

Justice Scalia, who had seemed calm and composed during the announcement of two major rulings this morning, was spotted by police minutes later outside the building, carrying a book of matches and a gallon of kerosene.

Back at the Supreme Court, Justice Scalia’s colleagues said they hoped he would get the help he needed, except for Justice Clarence Thomas, who said nothing.

Meanwhile  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg celebrated the marriage of a long time friend to another man while Justice Anthony Kennedy who wrote the decision on DOMA is being celebrated himself.

Justice Kennedy was a guest at an event in San Francisco featuring the Gay Men’s Chorus and speeches thanking him for his DOMA decision as well as his two previous decisions expanding gay rights.  The New York Times reported

The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus sang “Give ’Em Hope” for a revered and in some ways surprising guest who shared a California stage with them last month: Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

Justice Kennedy was in San Francisco for an American Bar Association meeting, but he was also there to be celebrated by the men on the risers behind him. In remarks from the stage, San Francisco’s mayor, Edwin M. Lee, thanked the justice “for upholding the Constitution and justice for all” in his majority opinion in June in United States v. Windsor, a major gay rights victory.

“Freedom is always a work in progress,” Justice Kennedy said in his own remarks, making clear that there was more work to be done.

Justice Ginsburg performs an historic marriage ceremony.

Justice Ginsburg performs an historic marriage ceremony.

justice Ginsburg became the first Supreme to officiate at a gay wedding.

Ginsburg officiated Saturday at the marriage of Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser and John Roberts, a government economist.

“Michael Kaiser is a friend and someone I much admire,” Ginsburg said in a written statement Friday. “That is why I am officiating at his wedding.”

“I think it will be one more statement that people who love each other and want to live together should be able to enjoy the blessings and the strife in the marriage relationship,” Ginsburg told The Washington Post in an interview.

“It won’t be long before there will be another” performed by a justice. She has another ceremony planned for September.

Kaiser told The Associated Press that he asked Ginsburg to officiate because she is a longtime friend.

So at least two, and if we take Justice Ginsburg at her word, three Supreme Court Justices moving forward with the times.

Has anyone else noted that one of those getting married was John Roberts?  Wonder what the Chief Justice thinks about that?
Photograph:  Margo Schulman/Kennedy Center

Official end to California’s Prop 8

I woke up this morning to this news from the New York Times

Gay Couples Who Sued in California Are Married

Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, who have been together for more than 15 years and have four sons, were married at San Francisco City Hall by Attorney General Kamala Harris on Friday.

Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, who have been together for more than 15 years and have four sons, were married at San Francisco City Hall by Attorney General Kamala Harris on Friday.

The two couples who sued to overturn California’s ban on same-sex marriage were married late Friday afternoon, just hours after the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, lifted the stay that had been in place.

The court had stopped same-sex marriages while the case wound its way through the Supreme Court, which issued its decision to clear the path for same-sex marriages in California on Wednesday.

Attorney General Kamala Harris rushed to San Francisco City Hall within minutes of the ruling to perform the wedding for Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, who have been together for more than 15 years and have four sons.

And in LA

Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, on his last workday in office, officiated at the Friday evening wedding of Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo, the two other plaintiffs in the case. Until Friday afternoon, they had no idea when their marriage could take place.

“Nobody really knew; that’s what our lawyers are there for. We don’t really care about any of that at this point, but we’re on our way to see the mayor,” Mr. Zarrillo told KCRW, a public radio station in Los Angeles.

The pair were stuck in traffic en route from their home to the county office to obtain their marriage license and then to City Hall downtown. But by 6:30 they walked in front of dozens of television cameras, kissed Mayor Villaraigosa and were pronounced married.

“Your relationship is an inspiration to us all,” Mr. Villaraigosa said. “Today, your wait is finally over.”

“Equal feels different,” Mr. Katami said. Mr. Zarrillo added, “Equal feels good.”

The Ninth Circuit acted with unusual speed.

Many legal experts and advocates had expected the court to wait for an official decision from the Supreme Court, as is the normal practice. But after the initial ruling was issued on Wednesday, Ms. Harris urged the Circuit Court to act immediately and said she would ensure that all counties in the state were prepared to issue licenses to same-sex couples.

Just after 3 p.m. Friday, the three-judge panel issued a one-sentence ruling lifting the stay on a district judge’s injunction to not enforce the ban on same-sex marriages.

Gov. Jerry Brown issued a statement late Friday afternoon saying that he had directed the state’s Department of Health to notify all 58 counties in the state that “same-sex marriage is now legal in California and that marriage licenses must be issued to same-sex couples immediately.”

I know there had been some confusion about the impact of the Supreme Court decision.  Some thought it would only apply to the plaintiff, but since the District and Appeals courts had already ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional it turns out that only the stay had to be lifted.

From Massachusetts:  Welcome to Marriage Equality, California!  And an aside to the opponents – don’t worry, the sky will not fall.  This is number 13.  Which state will be next?

Photograph:  Jim Wilson/The New York Times

A question for the Chief Justice

So, Mr. Chief Justice, where did you say you went to law school?  That’s what I want to ask Mr. Roberts after yesterday’s hearing on The Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA.

Here is the relevant exchange as reported by the New York Times.

He expressed irritation that the case was before the court, saying President Obama’s approach — to enforce the law but not defend it — was a contradiction.

“I don’t see why he doesn’t have the courage of his convictions,” the chief justice said. He said Mr. Obama should have stopped enforcing a statute he viewed as unconstitutional “rather than saying, ‘Oh, we’ll wait till the Supreme Court tells us we have no choice.’ ”

The White House took umbrage at the remark and said the president was upholding his constitutional duty to execute the laws until the Supreme Court rules otherwise. “There is a responsibility that the administration has to enforce laws that are on the books,” said Josh Earnest, a deputy White House press secretary. “And we’ll do that even for laws that we disagree with, including the Defense of Marriage Act.”

The Chief Justice should know that the President has to enforce laws until they are declared unconstitutional by a court.  Thus my question.

The situation, however, is a little bit more complicated.  NPR explains it this way.

Has the Obama administration abrogated its responsibility by continuing to enforce DOMA, while refusing to defend it in court?

Justice Antonin Scalia: “And I’m wondering if we’re living in this new world where the attorney general can simply decide, ‘Yeah, it’s unconstitutional, but it’s not so unconstitutional that I’m not willing to enforce it.’ If we’re in this new world, I — I don’t want these cases like this to come before this court all the time. And I think they will come all the time if that’s … the new regime in the Justice Department that we’re dealing with.”

Deputy U.S. Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan: “Justice Scalia, one recognized situation in which an act of Congress won’t be defended in court is when the president makes a determination that the act is unconstitutional. That’s what happened here. The president made an accountable legal determination that this act of Congress is unconstitutional.”

Paul Clement, lawyer for GOP House leadership in defense of DOMA: “The House’s single most important prerogative, which is to pass legislation and have that legislation, if it’s going to be repealed, only be repealed through a process where the House gets to fully participate.”

Justice Kennedy: “Suppose that constitutional scholars have grave doubts about the practice of the president signing a bill but saying that he thinks it’s unconstitutional — what do you call it, signing statements or something like that? It seems to me that if we adopt your position that that would ratify and confirm and encourage that questionable practice because if the president thinks the law is unconstitutional, he shouldn’t sign it, according to some view. And that’s a lot like what you’re arguing here. It’s very troubling.”

Deputy U.S. Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan: “But my point is simply that when the president makes a determination that a statute is unconstitutional, it can follow that the Department of Justice won’t defend it in litigation.”

What should a President do in a situation like this one?  Does he just continue to enforce the law while trying to get Congress to repeal it as Paul Clement seems to argue.  Or does he do what he did:  say he thought the law was unconstitutional while both appealing and enforcing it.  I suppose that he could have issued an executive order to the IRS to accept joint tax returns from all legally married couples but that would have created an even bigger uproar that going to the Supreme Court.

My point, Mr. Chief Justice, is that yes, this may be an unprecedented situation, but the job of the Supreme Court and therefore your job is to make the ultimate decision on Constitutionality.  So just do your job.  And by the way, where did you go to law school?

Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in the DOMA case,

Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in the DOMA case.

Photograph Christopher Gregory/The New York Times