Healthcare May Hurt Efforts to Overturn DOMA

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Gay Marriage & ObamaCare      

A New York federal appeals court has recently ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), now all but ensuring that the Act will be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The case came before the court when an elderly lesbian woman received a more than $363,000 tax bill from the IRS when her female spouse died. The IRS ruled that the surviving spouse could not take advantage of the spousal deduction, as under DOMA, the federal government defines marriage as between one man and one woman. 

While it may seem likely that the U.S. Supreme Court would rule the law unconstitutional given the makeup of the Court, the recent ObamaCare ruling may change the outcome. In that case, the Court held that although a direct mandate to purchase health insurance was outside the scope of Congress’ power, the federal government could establish a corresponding tax. As Chief Justice Roberts explained, “Put simply, Congress may tax and spend. This grant gives the Federal Government considerable influence even in areas where it cannot directly regulate. The Federal Government may enact a tax on an activity that it cannot authorize, forbid, or otherwise control.” Accordingly, while Court’s political ideologies would seem to lean toward an end to DOMA, the ObamaCare holding may result in the Act being upheld under Congress’ taxing and spending power.

Category: Divorce & Family Law


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