In 2011, the Obama administration’s U.S. Justice Department ignited controversy over its decision to stop defending a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that it found unconstitutional.

“This decision was not taken lightly,” then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said. “Any decisions at any level not to defend individual laws must be exceedingly rare. They must be reserved only for exceptional, truly exceptional circumstances. And they must never stem merely from policy or political disagreements—hinging instead only on firm constitutional grounds.”

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