By Susan Jones
The U.S. House of Representatives says it will make sure the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act is decided by the courts – not by the president.
In a statement on Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said an advisory group of House leaders – including top-ranking Republicans and Democrats – has directed the House General Counsel “to initiate a legal defense” of the federal law, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The Bipartisan Leadership Advisory Group — a five-member panel consisting of the speaker, majority leader, majority whip, minority leader and minority whip — has the authority to instruct the General Counsel to take legal action on behalf of the House of Representatives.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) applauded the decision to involve the House in pending court cases challenging DOMA.
“President Obama’s decision to abdicate his executive branch responsibility to defend DOMA is a constitutional outrage,” King said. “President Obama’s decision to abandon the law is yet another example of his willingness to politicize the Department of Justice on behalf of favored interest groups.”
King also noted that the House will now incur legal expenses stemming from its defense of the law. Therefore, he said, “I intend to offer an amendment that will defund the Department of Justice by a comparable amount. The DOJ should not receive funding for work that it is refusing to do.”
The Justice Department announced last month that it would no longer defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) because the president and Attorney General Eric Holder now believe the law is unconstitutional.
“After careful consideration, including review of a recommendation from me, the President of the United States has made the determination that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act…as applied to same-sex couples who are legally married under state law, violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment,” Holder wrote in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on February 23.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama believes DOMA is “unnecessary and unfair.”
But as CNSNews.com reported, critics of Obama’s decision said the president of the United States, who is sworn to faithfully execute the law, doesn’t get to pick and choose which laws to defend.
First published by CNS News on March 10, 2011.