DOMA Ruled Unconstitutional (Again) in an Estate Tax Case

The slow but steady death march of the Defense of Marriage Act continued Wednesday, as another federal court ruled DOMA unconstitutional.

This latest case involved the estate tax. Edie Windsor’s same-sex spouse, Thea Spyer, died in 2009 and left a large estate to Windsor. Because of DOMA, the unlimited spousal exclusion available under estate-tax law didn’t apply and Spyer’s estate was assessed more than $363,000 in estate taxes. Windsor, who was the executor of Spyer’s estate, paid the tax owed and then filed suit for a refund. A U.S. District Court judge in New York ruled in favor of Windsor and declared DOMA unconstitutional in a ruling handed down yesterday.

Like with the other cases where DOMA has been ruled unconstitutional, this case doesn’t change anything yet, as it will almost certainly be appealed.

You can find the full text of the court ruling here. An ACLU article about the ruling can be found here.

Professor Pat Cain at Santa Clara Law School has her take on the case here.