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Sponsors of DOMA repeal press Boehner for briefing on House defense efforts

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
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Lead sponsors of the Respect for Marriage Act — the bill aimed at repealing the Defense of Marriage Act — are pressing House Speaker John Boehner for a briefing on any activities relating to plans by the House general counsel to defend DOMA.

Last month, a panel called the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, voted 3-2 — along party lines — to direct the House general counsel to defend DOMA, following President Obama’s announcement that his administration would no longer defend the statute against litigation.

On Monday, the six sponsors of the DOMA repeal effort in the House — Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) — sent Boehner a letter asking him to “brief all interested members” on his plans to defend DOMA:

“As Members of Congress who have long agreed that DOMA is unconstitutional, we do not support the continued defense of this law in the courts … and sincerely hope that you will work with us to repeal the law rather than prolong it through litigation. As of now, however, you have signaled your intent to defend DOMA in the courts rather than reconsider it in the Congress.”

“Among other things, we are interested in a status report on who will be representing the House, estimates regarding the cost and length of proposed litigation efforts, the anticipated role of the House in litigation (i.e., intervenor or amicus curiae), and your assessment regarding the likelihood of success on the merits. If you or House General Counsel already have arranged for representation by outside counsel, we would welcome and appreciate their participation in this briefing.”

Copy of letter here (PDF).

According to the letter, April 18 is the deadline for the House to signal its intent to intervene in one of the pending cases challenging DOMA, Windsor v. United States, currently pending in the U.S. District Court of Southern District of New York.

The lawmakers are asking Boehner for a briefing on the DOMA defense prior to this date.

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