DOMA Ruling May Alter Campaign Finance Laws

Press Release


CONTACT:    Trevor Potter – 202.862.5092
                        Matthew Sanderson – 202.862.5046

Washington, D.C.—June 27, 2013: On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in the high-profile case U.S. v. Windsor, overturning a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  Earlier this year, members of Caplin & Drysdale's Political Law Group filed a friend-of-the-court brief in that case for a bipartisan group of former Federal Election Commission officials.  Trevor Potter, who leads the firm's Political Law Group and signed the Amicus Brief as a former FEC Chair, remarked: "This is a landmark moment for the rights of all Americans, and we congratulate Edith Windsor and marriage-equality advocates on their Supreme Court victory."

Presumably, the Federal Election Commission will now interpret the word "spouse" to include all legally married couples where it appears in federal campaign finance law.  This would end DOMA's discriminatory impact in this area.  As the Amicus Brief filed by Caplin & Drysdale noted, DOMA legally barred married gays and lesbians from political expression and association opportunities afforded to other married citizens.  Specifically, DOMA had the following effects on First Amendment rights:

  • Married gay and lesbian candidates who ran for federal office could not fund their campaigns using personal resources that were available to other married candidates. This was important, since over 40% of the 3,061 congressional candidates during the 2012 election cycle relied on personal resources to fund their campaigns.
  • Individuals in same-sex marriages could not attend certain political meetings or interact with certain political groups that were open to other married citizens.

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