March 4, 2013 | by Chris Johnson
Court grants extended time for DOMA arguments
Supreme Court, gay news, Washington Blade

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday set up speaking time for oral arguments in the DOMA case (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday it would grant extended time for oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging the Defense of Marriage Act.

In its order list, the court granted a total of 110 minutes in arguments before the court — set for March 27 — with 50 minutes devoted to jurisdictional issues and 60 minutes devoted to the merits. That’s significantly longer than the standard 60 minutes for oral arguments before the court.

Time is further broken down as follows:

“On the jurisdiction issues, the Court-appointed amicus curiae is allotted 20 minutes, the Solicitor General is allotted 15 minutes, and respondent Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives is allotted 15 minutes,” the orders state. “On the merits, respondent Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives is allotted 30 minutes, the Solicitor General is allotted 15 minutes, and respondent Edith Windsor is allotted 15 minutes.”

The Court-appointed amicus curiae is Harvard law professor Vicki Jackson, who has argued that the Supreme Court doesn’t have jurisdiction to hear the DOMA case, nor does the House Republican-led Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group have standing to participate in the lawsuit.

The announcement responds to a request filed last week from U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, reported by SCOTUSBlog, for extended speaking time during the oral arguments. Notably, even though attorneys for plaintiff Edith Windsor sought time to speak on the jurisdictional question, they are not granted time during oral arguments to address that issue.

While setting time allocations for the DOMA arguments, the court orders on Monday make no mention of whether the Supreme Court has agreed to another request from the Solicitor General Donald Verrilli to participate in oral arguments in the case against California’s Proposition 8. The issue apparently remains to be decided.

Last week, Verrilli filed a motion with the Supreme Court noting the Justice Department’s recently filed friend-of-the-court brief in the case and saying the government has a similar interest in Prop 8 as it does with DOMA.

“This case, like Windsor, presents the Court with the opportunity to address the question whether laws that target gay and lesbian people for discriminatory treatment should be subject to heightened scrutiny,” the motion states. “Certain interests articulated in support of Proposition 8 in this case have also been raised in Windsor in support of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, and the Court’s approach when examining those interests therefore is of significance to the United States.”

Verrilli adds Justice Department participation in oral argument will provide the court with the government’s “unique perspective” on Prop 8 and will be of material assistance to the Court.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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