President Barack Obama told Attorney General Eric Holder today to quickly implement the Supreme Court’s landmark decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act.
In response to this morning’s ruling, in which the high court struck down a 1996 law that denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples, the president said he asked his Attorney General to work with other cabinet members “to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.”
“Relevant statutes” includes “every possible tax and benefit program that the govenrment runs,” according to Robert M. Loeb, the former acting Deputy Director of the Appellate Staff of the Civil Division.
Think Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, income taxes, federal pension benefits and welfare programs.
Loeb, who was one of the heads of appellate section during all of the DOMA deliberations and litigation, said more than 1,000 programs would be implicated by today’s decision.
The Civil Division and Office of Legal Counsel will take the lead, issuing directives and helping agencies, like Health and Human Services, update their forms and computer systems.
“These are changes all of the agencies have anticipated knowing the court could come to this decision,” said Loeb, who departed DOJ in March to join Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP as a partner in its Supreme Court and appellate litigation practice.
Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division Stuart Delery has been heavily involved in the department’s preparation and opposition to DOMA.
“He argued some of the cases personally as the head of the division, which showed how important it was to the Attorney General and the president,” Loeb said.
Delery appeared earlier this month before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is considering his nomination to permanently head the division.
At the outset of the confirmation hearing, Delery thanked his partner, Richard Gervase, and their two sons Michael and Sebastian, who he called “the joys of my life.” The three sat smiling in the audience while Delery fielded questions from the senators.