Attorneys for Edith Windsor have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to immediately review the constitutionality of a federal law defining marriage exclusively as the union between one man and one woman. In June, Windsor won summary judgment from Southern District Judge Barbara Jones, who held that §3 of the Defense of Marriage Act violates the equal protection clause because it denied federal tax benefits on the estate of her late spouse, Thea Spyer, that are afforded heterosexual couples. The women married in Canada in 2007.
The Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is appealing that ruling and oral arguments are set for the week of Sept. 24 at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. But in their petition for a writ of certiorari to the high court, lawyers say time is running short because the automatic stay of enforcement on Jones’ ruling means that Windsor, who is 83 and suffers from a serious heart condition, is still not entitled to the $363,000 in federal estate taxes imposed on the Spyer estate by §3′s definition of marriage. (Read Windsor’s petition.) They also argue that this “question of exceptional importance” has already had a “full ventilation” in lower courts, which are now in “substantial disarray,” so certiorari before the judgment at the Court of Appeals is appropriate.