Faculty Notes

Prof. Joanna Grossman Files Amicus Brief in Pending Supreme Court Case Obergefell v. Hodges

Joanna L. Grossman, Sidney and Walter Siben Distinguished Professor of Family Law and Hofstra Research Fellow

On behalf of a group of conflict of laws and family law professors, Joanna L. Grossman, the Sidney and Walter Siben Distinguished Professor of Family Law, has written and filed an amicus brief in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case currently pending in the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutionality of state bans on the celebration and recognition of marriages by same-sex couples.

This brief focuses on the recognition question — whether a state can refuse to give effect to a same-sex marriage validly celebrated in another state without running afoul of constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. It draws on the history of interstate marriage recognition, which favored recognition of other state’s marriages as a matter of comity — respect for the actions of sister states.

It argues that the current laws that categorically preclude recognition of just one type of marriage are historically unprecedented and, under the Court’s opinions in Windsor v. United States and Romer v. Evans, should be struck down because they constitute discrimination of an “unusual character” motivated solely by animus.

The Court will hear argument on April 28, 2015.