Conservative Supreme Court Justices ripped President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder from the bench on Wednesday during oral arguments concerning the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.
As The Hill noted, once Obama and Holder decided in 2011 that DOMA was unconstitutional in their opinions, they stopped defending the federal law in courts while directing federal agencies to comply with the law.
Chief Justice John Roberts wondered why Obama didn’t “have the courage of his convictions” to just go all the way and not follow the law if he thought it was unconstitutional.
Justice Antonin Scalia criticized Obama and Holder for letting the legal system live “in this brave new world” where the Justice Department can decide which laws it wants to defend. According to The Hill, Scalia said DOMA was not a law that the Justice Department could choose not to defend in federal courts.
“It’s only when the president thinks its unconstitutional?” Scalia asked. “Or could the attorney general, or the solicitor general, impose the same determination?”
Justice Anthony Kennedy said the Obama administration’s approach on DOMA gave him “intellectual whiplash” while Paul Clement, one of the most talented Supreme Court lawyers of his generation who was defending DOMA before the court, said the Obama administration had “vacated the premises” on DOMA.