University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Massachusetts v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services PB-MA-0005
Docket / Court 1:09-cv-11156-JLT ( D. Mass. )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Same-Sex Marriage
Case Summary
On July 8, 2009, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts under the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, against the federal government. The plaintiff asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging an ... read more >
On July 8, 2009, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts under the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, against the federal government. The plaintiff asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging an overreaching of federal authority into an exclusive sphere of the states. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the federal Defense of Marriage Act, 1 U.S.C. § 7, violates the Tenth Amendment, exceeds Congress's Article I powers, and runs afoul of the Constitution's principles of federalism by creating an extensive federal regulatory scheme that interferes with and undermines the Commonwealth's sovereign authority to define marriage and to regulate the marital status of its citizens.

On July 8, 2010, the Court (Judge Joseph L. Tauro), substantially agreeing with the Commonwealth's characterization of DOMA, granted the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and enjoined the federal government from enforcing DOMA against Massachusetts or its agencies. Massachusetts v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Services, 698 F.Supp.2d 234 (D. Mass. 2010). (The decision was issued the same day as Judge Tauro's decision striking down DOMA on equal protection grounds, in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, 699 F.Supp.2d 374 (D. Mass. 2010), PB-MA-0006, and the two cases were consolidated on appeal.) The defendants appealed and moved for a stay of the injunction pending their appeal, and the Court (Judge Tauro) granted their motion.

On February 24, 2011, the Department of Justice indicated to the Court of Appeals that it had come to the conclusion that DOMA is unconstitutional and would cease defending it. (It would later file a brief in support of the plaintiffs' case on September 22.) In response, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives intervened to defend the act.

On August 23, 2011, the plaintiff moved for an initial en banc hearing to expedite the case, but despite a supporting brief from the Department of Justice, the Court of Appeals (Chief Judge Sandra L. Lynch) denied the motion.

After hearing arguments on April 4, 2012, on May 31 a three-judge panel of the First Circuit (Chief Judge Lynch, Judge Michael Boudin, and Judge Juan R. Torruella) unanimously affirmed the District Court's judgment in an opinion by Judge Boudin. Massachusetts v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Services, No. 10-2204, 2012 WL 1948017 (1st Cir. May 31, 2012). While the Court of Appeals refrained from applying heightened scrutiny, it also declined to employ hyper-deferential rational basis review; instead, the Court held that Supreme Court precedent in cases implicating the interests of historically disadvantaged minority groups (e.g. United States Department of Agriculture v. Moreno, 413 U.S. 528 (1973), City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, 473 U.S. 432 (1985), Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996)) and cases considering federal action in areas of traditional state concern (e.g. United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598 (2000), United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995)) suggested a more searching form of rational basis inquiry (so-called 'rational basis with bite'), and that the rationales given for DOMA did not hold up under this closer scrutiny. Injunctive relief has been stayed pending the possibility of review by the Supreme Court; the Department of Justice sought review on July 3, 2012. The petition was set for consideration by the Court on November 30, 2012. Presumably it will be held without decision while the Court considers the California Prop. 8 case (PB-CA-0029 in this Clearinghouse) and Windsor, the DOMA case from the Second Circuit (PB-NY-0017 in this Clearinghouse), in which the Court granted review on December 7. (Argument on those cases is expected to occur in March 2013.)

Christopher Schad - 12/07/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Federalism
Discrimination-basis
Sexual orientatation
General
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Marriage
Plaintiff Type
State Plaintiff
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Plaintiff Description State of Massachusetts
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2012 - n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing PB-MA-0006 : Gill v. Office of Personnel Management (D. Mass.)
Additional Resources
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Links William G. v. Pataki
http://www.bazelon.org/william-g-v-pataki/
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Disability Rights New Jersey v. Velez
http://www.bazelon.org/drnj-v-velez/
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Williams v. Quinn
http://www.bazelon.org/williams-v-quinn/
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  United States of America v. Commonwealth of Virginia
http://www.bazelon.org/u-s-v-virginia/
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  United States of America v. North Carolina
http://www.bazelon.org/u-s-v-north-carolina/
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  U.S. v. Georgia
http://www.bazelon.org/u-s-v-georgia/
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  O'Toole v. Cuomo [Formerly DAI v. Cuomo]
http://www.bazelon.org/otoole-v-cuomo/
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Amanda D. v. Hassan
http://www.bazelon.org/amanda-d-v-hassan/
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:09-cv-11156-JLT (D. Mass.)
PB-MA-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/31/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
1:09-cv-11156 (D. Mass.)
PB-MA-0005-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/31/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PB-MA-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/08/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum [ECF# 58] (698 F.Supp.2d 234) (D. Mass.)
PB-MA-0005-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/08/2010
Judgment [ECF# 63] (D. Mass.)
PB-MA-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/12/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 65] (D. Mass.)
PB-MA-0005-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/24/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Department of Justice Letter Regarding Defense of Marriage Act Litigation [Ct. of App. ECF# 00116175339]
PB-MA-0005-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/24/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Superseding Brief for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
PB-MA-0005-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/22/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion (682 F.3d 1)
PB-MA-0005-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/31/2012
Source: U.S. Court of Appeals website
Petition for a Writ of Certiorari
PB-MA-0005-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/03/2012
CONDITIONAL CROSS-PETITION FOR A WRIT OF CERTIORARI
PB-MA-0005-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/20/2012
BRIEF IN OPPOSITION
PB-MA-0005-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/23/2012
REPLY BRIEF FOR CONDITIONAL CROSS-PETITIONER
PB-MA-0005-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/05/2012
Judges Boudin, Michael Court not on record
PB-MA-0005-0007
Lynch, Sandra Lea Court not on record
PB-MA-0005-0007
Tauro, Joseph Louis Court not on record
PB-MA-0005-0002 | PB-MA-0005-0003 | PB-MA-0005-0004 | PB-MA-0005-9000 | PB-MA-0005-9001
Torruella, Juan R. Court not on record
PB-MA-0005-0007
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barry-Smith, Christopher K. (Massachusetts)
PB-MA-0005-0001 | PB-MA-0005-0009 | PB-MA-0005-0011 | PB-MA-0005-9000 | PB-MA-0005-9001
Boyle, Brian J. (Massachusetts)
PB-MA-0005-0011
Coakley, Martha (Massachusetts)
PB-MA-0005-0009 | PB-MA-0005-0011
Ellsworth, Felicia H. (Massachusetts)
PB-MA-0005-0009 | PB-MA-0005-0011
Fleming, Mark C. (Massachusetts)
PB-MA-0005-0009 | PB-MA-0005-0011
Friedman, David S. (Massachusetts)
PB-MA-0005-0001 | PB-MA-0005-9000 | PB-MA-0005-9001
Healey, Maura T. (Massachusetts)
PB-MA-0005-0001 | PB-MA-0005-0009 | PB-MA-0005-0011 | PB-MA-0005-9000 | PB-MA-0005-9001
Jacobson, Joshua D. (Massachusetts)
PB-MA-0005-0009 | PB-MA-0005-0011
Lindemann, Jessica M. (Massachusetts)
PB-MA-0005-9000 | PB-MA-0005-9001
Miller, Jonathan B. (Massachusetts)
PB-MA-0005-0001 | PB-MA-0005-0009 | PB-MA-0005-0011 | PB-MA-0005-9000 | PB-MA-0005-9001
O'Grady, Margaret E. (Massachusetts)
PB-MA-0005-0009 | PB-MA-0005-0011
Schoenfeld, Alan E. (New York)
PB-MA-0005-0009 | PB-MA-0005-0011
Wolfson, Paul Reinherz (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-0009 | PB-MA-0005-0011
Defendant's Lawyers Bartolomucci, H. Christopher (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-0010
Bressler, Steven Y. (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-9000 | PB-MA-0005-9001
Clement, Paul D. (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-0010
Davenport, Christine (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-0010
Delery, Stuart F. (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-0008
Flentje, August E. (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-0006 | PB-MA-0005-0008
Hall, Christopher R. (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-9000 | PB-MA-0005-9001
Kingsley, Benjamin S. (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-0005 | PB-MA-0005-0006 | PB-MA-0005-0008
Kircher, Kerry W. (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-0010
Kopp, Robert E (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-0006
Kruger, Leondra R. (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-0008
Moran, Philip D. (Massachusetts)
PB-MA-0005-9000 | PB-MA-0005-9001
Nelson, Nicholas J. (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-0010
Ortiz, Carmen M. (Massachusetts)
PB-MA-0005-0006
Pittard, William (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-0010
Shah, Pratik A. (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-0008
Singer, Michael Jay (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-0006 | PB-MA-0005-0008
Srinivasan, Srikanth (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-0008
Tatelman, Todd B. (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-0010
Thomas, Mark (New York)
PB-MA-0005-9001
Verrilli, Donald B. Jr. (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-0008
Walker, Mary Beth (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-0010
West, Tony (District of Columbia)
PB-MA-0005-0005 | PB-MA-0005-0006

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