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Kottkamp commentary blurred

By Staff | Mar 9, 2011

To the editor,

In a guest commentary in the March 3 edition of the Island Reporter, Jeff Kottkamp is sharply critical of the administration’s recent decision not to defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Unfortunately, he confuses the issue by mischaracterizing the administration’s action.

Mr. Kottkamp’s commentary repeatedly blurs the uncommon but not unprecedented decision not to defend a statute in court with a refusal to enforce it. There is, of course, a very big difference. The executive branch has the sole authority and obligation to enforce acts of Congress.

On the other hand, Congress is free to defend the statute in court if it so chooses, as are private interest groups, with or without the administration’s participation.

The suggestion that the administration has refused to enforce DOMA is not borne out by the record. According to published reports, Attorney General Eric Holder made it clear that the administration would continue to enforce DOMA until Congress repeals it or a court decides definitively that it is unconstitutional.

Larry Schopp