University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Cooper-Harris v. Department of Veterans Affairs PB-CA-0036
Docket / Court CV12-0887-CBM ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Same-Sex Marriage
Attorney Organization ACLU of Southern California
Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
Plaintiff is a military veteran with multiple sclerosis who married her wife in California in 2008. On February 1, 2012, the plaintiff (represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU of Southern California, and private counsel) filed suit challenging DOMA and other laws governing the ... read more >
Plaintiff is a military veteran with multiple sclerosis who married her wife in California in 2008. On February 1, 2012, the plaintiff (represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU of Southern California, and private counsel) filed suit challenging DOMA and other laws governing the Department of Veterans Affairs. The plaintiff alleges that the laws violate her equal protection rights, since she would be entitled to larger monthly disability payments if she were recognized as a legally married person.

The House Republican-appointed "Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group" (BLAG) has appeared to defend the constitutionality of the challenged statutes. BLAG sought a stay of proceedings while similar issues were resolved in Golinski v. OPM, a DOMA case in the 9th Circuit. But on August 3, 2012, the district court in this case denied the stay. In December, after the Supreme Court granted review on the issue (in the Windsor case, out of the 2nd Circuit), BLAG renewed its motion for a stay, pending the outcome in the Supreme Court. The U.S. has declined to defend the constitutionality of the statutes in question, but it filed a motion to dismiss, on the grounds that the Veterans' Judicial Review Act confers exclusive jurisdiction on the VA Secretary over benefits claims, depriving the district court here of jurisdiction to order an award of benefits. The U.S. notes that this plaintiff has already initiated proceedings before the VA (though those proceedings are stalled right now.) On August 29, the court denied the defendant's motion to dismiss.

On March 12, 2014, the court declared that DOMA was unconstitutional under the equal protection component of the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. The court ruled against sections within DOMA that required a "spouse" or "surviving spouse" to be a member of the opposite sex. The defendants were enjoined from using DOMA to deny recognition of the plaintiff's same-sex marriage, which had been recognized by the State of California.

- 11/27/2012
Alex Colbert-Taylor - 06/25/2013
Megan Dolan - 10/25/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Sexual orientatation
General
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Marriage
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Causes of Action
Defendant(s) Department of Veterans Affairs
Plaintiff Description Same-sex couple seeking recognition of their marriage by the Department of Veterans Affairs, so that the non-veteran member of the couple can get the health benefits to which different-sex spouses are entitled.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU of Southern California
Southern Poverty Law Center
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Limited Partnership
http://www.limitedpartnershipmovie.com/
By: Thomas G. Miller
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  United States Government says L.A. Gay Couple’s 1975 Marriage is Valid
The Pride L.A.
Written: Jun. 07, 2016
By: Troy Masters
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:12-cv-887 (C.D. Cal.) 03/13/2014
PB-CA-0036-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
IN CHAMBERS/OFF THE RECORD (Order) 02/14/1994 (C.D. Cal.)
PB-CA-0036-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Complaint for Declaratory, Injunctive, and Other Relief 02/01/2012
PB-CA-0036-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ORDER GRANTING BIPARTISAN LEGAL ADVISORY GROUP OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES’ LEAVE TO INTERVENE AND WAIVER OF LOCAL RULE 83-2.3 AS TO BANCROFT PLLC 05/22/2012 (C.D. Cal.)
PB-CA-0036-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Protective Order 10/24/2012 (C.D. Cal.)
PB-CA-0036-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ORDER DENYING INTERVENORDEFENDANT’S MOTION TO EXCLUDE THE EXPERT TESTIMONY OF DR. LAWRENCE J. KORB AND MAJ. GEN. (RET.) DENNIS LAICH 02/08/2013 (C.D. Cal.)
PB-CA-0036-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment 02/20/2013
PB-CA-0036-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment 08/29/2013 (965 F.Supp.2d 1139) (C.D. Cal.)
PB-CA-0036-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Marshall, Consuelo Bland (C.D. Cal.)
PB-CA-0036-0002 | PB-CA-0036-0003 | PB-CA-0036-0004 | PB-CA-0036-0005 | PB-CA-0036-0007 | PB-CA-0036-9000
Wistrich, Andrew J. (C.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
PB-CA-0036-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Ali, Rubina (New York)
PB-CA-0036-0006 | PB-CA-0036-9000
Benedetto, Matthew D. (California)
PB-CA-0036-0006 | PB-CA-0036-9000
Lee, Randall R. (California)
PB-CA-0036-0001 | PB-CA-0036-0006 | PB-CA-0036-9000
Levin, Joseph J. Jr. (Alabama)
PB-CA-0036-0006 | PB-CA-0036-9000
Marder, Eugene (California)
PB-CA-0036-0006 | PB-CA-0036-9000
Noble, Daniel S. (New York)
PB-CA-0036-9000
Romero, Adam P. (New York)
PB-CA-0036-0006 | PB-CA-0036-9000
Short, Caren E. (Alabama)
PB-CA-0036-0006 | PB-CA-0036-9000
Sun, Christine P. (California)
PB-CA-0036-0006 | PB-CA-0036-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bartolomucci, H. Christopher (District of Columbia)
PB-CA-0036-9000
Clement, Paul D. (District of Columbia)
PB-CA-0036-9000
Davenport, Christine (District of Columbia)
PB-CA-0036-9000
Dugan, Conor Brendan (District of Columbia)
PB-CA-0036-9000
Kircher, Kerry W. (District of Columbia)
PB-CA-0036-9000
Konar, Kirsten W. (District of Columbia)
PB-CA-0036-9000
Lin, Jean (District of Columbia)
PB-CA-0036-9000
McGinley, Michael H. (District of Columbia)
PB-CA-0036-9000
Nelson, Nicholas J. (District of Columbia)
PB-CA-0036-9000
Pittard, William (District of Columbia)
PB-CA-0036-9000
Tatelman, Todd B. (District of Columbia)
PB-CA-0036-9000
Walker, Mary Beth (District of Columbia)
PB-CA-0036-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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