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U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has announced that the U.S. House will take steps to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) law in court after the Obama Administration recently announced it would no longer do so.
Speaker Boehner issued the following statement regarding the status of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA):
I will convene a meeting of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group for the purpose of initiating action by the House to defend this law of the United States, which was enacted by a bipartisan vote in Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton. It is regrettable that the Obama Administration has opened this divisive issue at a time when Americans want their leaders to focus on jobs and the challenges facing our economy. The constitutionality of this law should be determined by the courts — not by the president unilaterally — and this action by the House will ensure the matter is addressed in a manner consistent with our Constitution.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) echoed the Speaker’s position. “This regrettable decision was based on a standard no court has yet found to apply and is a clear political exercise by the Administration,” said Cantor.
According to the Heritage Foundation, federal statute allows the U.S. House or the U.S. Senate to defend the law if the Justice Department fails to do so. The U.S. Senate can vote to have its legal counsel appear on behalf of the chamber in place of the Justice Department. The U.S. House can do that, or hire private counsel.
Speaker Boehner says he’s explored the possibility of hiring a special counsel and his staff is researching several legal options. He has also convened a meeting of the five-member House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group.
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