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Was DOMA just struck down by the US Supreme Court?

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FreeState Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 06:52 PM
Original message
Was DOMA just struck down by the US Supreme Court?
Interest... sounds like it could lead to the end to DOMA and state Amendments...


Source: AP

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a ruling that Virginia must enforce a Vermont court order awarding child-visitation rights to a mother's former lesbian partner.

The high court Monday declined to hear the case of Lisa Miller, who claimed that the Virginia Supreme Court improperly ignored a state law and constitutional amendment that prohibit same-sex unions and the recognition of such arrangements from other states.

The decision let stand a victory for Janet Jenkins, who has been fighting for visitation rights since the dissolution of the civil union she and Miller obtained in Vermont in 2000. Miller gave birth to the daughter, Isabella, in 2002, and the child was at the center of a legal battle closely watched by national conservative and gay-rights groups.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Read more: http://www.wric.com/Global/story.asp?S=9479398
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eyesroll Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 06:57 PM
Response to Original message
1. Hm...
Many states permit visitation by people other than legal/biological parents.
Wisconsin allows stepparents, grandparents, and people who've acted as parents (usually unmarried would-be stepparents or the non-biological parent in a splitting same-sex couple) to sue for visitation. Note that marital status isn't required. (And WI has one of those amendments.)

So I don't think this--in itself--is too big a chink in DOMA's armor. This recognizes a parenting plan and the best interests of the child; it doesn't necessarily recognize the civil union.

Still, it's good that the Court stayed out of it.
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FreeState Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 07:10 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Yes however the losing sides argument was state DOMA Amendment - not the child - so its interesting
Edited on Mon Dec-08-08 07:13 PM by FreeState
that they did not want to rule on it - the Virginia Amendment states this:

http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/cms/documents/2006_Constitu...

" That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.

This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage. "

Here is more background on the case:

http://www.newsweek.com/id/172554?from=rss
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ohm_moyh_gawd Donating Member (12 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 07:17 PM
Response to Original message
3. The USSC letting a lower court ruling stand does not
overturn DOMA. It just means that for the time being, until the USSC decides to take up a more direct challenge to DOMA, there remains this conflict in federal law, at least in the federal district where this lower court ruling remains effective. This often happens - lower federal courts will issue conflicting rulings, and they just build up until they present such a conflict in interpreting federal law that the USSC pretty much has to take on a case to clear up the mud.
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FreeState Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 07:19 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Oh thanks for the clarification - still good news IMO :) n/t
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hendo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 07:18 PM
Response to Original message
4. Unfortunately
the Court declining to hear a case does not mean that they struck down DOMA. They just refrained from discussing it in court.
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bluedawg12 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 08:44 PM
Response to Reply #4
8. It sounds like the Va. Supreme Ct. already accepted the Vt. ruling
that the former partner had visitation rights and SCOTUS did not take up the case. Oddly, the Va. SC ruled in favor of a CU ex-partner.

It was the former partner and the childs birth mother, who claimed protection from visitation by citing Va. laws against s-s marriage and CU's.

The former CU partner, "claimed that the Virginia Supreme Court improperly ignored a state law and constitutional amendment that prohibit same-sex unions and the recognition of such arrangements from other states."

Life is strange in it's twists and turns.
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Ioo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 07:32 PM
Response to Original message
6. So does that mean VA has to recogze my CA Marriage? It is a court order!
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ohm_moyh_gawd Donating Member (12 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 07:43 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. No, it just means that
Virginia must enforce a Vermont court order awarding child-visitation rights in that particular case. It doesn't topple DOMA, even where that federal court's ruling is in effect; it only applies to the legal issues that the court addressed.
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Ioo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-09-08 09:21 AM
Response to Reply #7
11. Right but is not my marrage a "court order" in a way? (forget DOMA)
I went to the court house, I had a deputy of the court marry me, the document I have is from said court. IF VA is required to act on a court order from Vermont, even it if disagrees with it via a VA Constitutional amendment, as this ruling states, does that mean that MY court order also need to be accepted by the courts of VA?

Not looking to make a stink here, but I think in short it says a order of the court needs to be addressed and followed, another state can not pick and choose.

Am I missing something here?
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 09:56 PM
Response to Original message
9. Here is the Actual Case decided by the Virginia Supreme Court, it is a Res Judicata Case NOT DOMA
Edited on Mon Dec-08-08 09:57 PM by happyslug
http://www.courts.state.va.us/opinions/opnscvwp/1070933...

If you read it, the holding is quite clear, it is strictly one of Civil Procedure. Janet Miller and Lisa Miller had lived together and agreed to have a child. When Lisa later asked Vermont to dissolved the Civil Union, Vermont did so and gave Custody of the Child to Lisa, the birth mother, while Janet Miller was given Visitation. Lisa then moved to Virginia and filed for sole custody of the Child. The trial court granted her custody but on appeal to the Virginia Court of Appeals, that Court reversed the trial court and told it to enforce the Vermont Custody Order for to do otherwise would violate the Federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act,28 U.S.C. 1738A. Lisa tried to Appeal, but failed to follow the correct procedure to get in front of the Virginia Supreme Court and the appeal was denied do to failing to properly file the appeal (I.e. did not follow the correct procedure to get in front of the Virginia Supreme Court).

Janet then attempted to enter the Vermont Order in Virginia. Lisa objected to the entrance of the Vermont C&V Order do to DOMA. Lisa objected to this, lost at trial court, filed an appeal with the Virginia Court of Appeals, lost on her appeal, then filed for review by the Virginia Supreme Court. The court then ruled that since she had failed to perfect her former appeal, the holding of the case was final and could NOT be brought up again in a similar action between the same parties (What we attorneys call Res Judicata, but Virgina law calls "Law of the case" and cited so by the Virginia Supreme Court).

Yes, the birth mother LOST do to a Civil Procedure ruling, NOT the merit of the Case, in fact one judge wrote a concurring opinion stating that based on the facts of the case, he could have ruled in the Birth Mother's favor had the ORIGINAL case been properly appealed. He then again points out that this case was NOT that case, and the court MUST follow the "Rule of the Case" when it comes to disputes already decided in a previous action between the same parties. An interesting Res Judicata case, with DOMA and Federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act bring mentioned, but not discussed. The issue in front of the Court in this case was had this dispute been decided previously and all appeals from that decision been taken or waived? The court ruled it had been, the parties were the same and the subject matter was the same, thus it was Res Judicata, the court MUST follow the previous holding on this same matter between these same parties.


Being a Res Judicata Case, no wonder the Supreme Court did not take up this case. Civil Procedure can be interesting, but in this case the people pushing DOMA as the issue would have been sorely disappointed no matter what the US Supreme Court ruled on the issue of Res Judicata.
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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-09-08 09:02 AM
Response to Original message
10. That is a very interesting perspective, but
Unless the Court explicitly struck it down -- mentioned it by name and said, "this is a no-no" -- then no. However, this decision does create an extremely powerful precedent and is, in and of itself, almost guaranteed to strike down DOMA when the law (eventually) comes under court review.
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LostinVA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-09-08 11:46 AM
Response to Original message
12. No, but it a very important precedent
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