Letter to Barack Obama, President of the United States - Concern over Decision to Not Enforce the Defense of Marriage Act


Congressmen Tim Huelskamp (Republican, KS-01) and Jeff Landry (Republican, LA-03) with 42 fellow GOP House members sent a letter to the President condemning President Obama's decision to not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The letter highlights the separation of powers granted by Constitution and raises concern of possible collusion between the Obama Administration and the litigants in a pending Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case.

The full text of Congressmen Huelskamp and Landry's letter is below:

March 22, 2011

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington, DC 20001

Dear President Obama:

We are writing to express our great concern and disapproval over your recent announcement to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Your decision casts doubt on the trust the American people place in our government as a whole, and in the authority of the Constitution specifically.

As President, you and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have a duty and a responsibility to defend the laws of the United States. While it may be inevitable that you, or any other administration, may disagree with a bill signed into law by previous Presidents, that does not negate your responsibility to uphold those laws.

More disconcerting, however, is the justification you offered, as explained in Attorney General Holder's letter to Speaker John Boehner on February 23, 2011. The courts have outlined only two reasons that justify a refusal to defend a law in court--there is a conflict of interest related to a question on the separation of powers, or when defending a law would require requesting the Court to overturn a previous Supreme Court ruling. Neither one of these reasons were cited when explaining why you would no longer be defending DOMA. Instead, you cite your own conclusion that the law is unconstitutional, even though Attorney General Holder acknowledged that the "Supreme Court has yet to rule on the appropriate level of scrutiny for classifications based on sexual orientation." It is the role of the judicial branch of government, not the executive, to adjudicate the constitutionality of a law. For you to instruct DOJ not to defend the law because you believe it to be unconstitutional violates the clear delineation between powers that was established in the Constitution.

To enforce your opinion on such a controversial topic also begs the question as to what other laws your administration may choose to disregard. Your actions send a message to the American people that your administration cares little for the decisions made, the votes cast, and laws enacted by their elected representatives.

Furthermore, we are concerned with the possibility of collusion between the administration and litigants in the DOMA case pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Language from Attorney General Holder's letter was quoted and served as a basis for arguments within a "Motion to Vacate Stay" that was filed within a matter of hours of your decision being made public. The timing calls into question the possibility of collaboration, which would be unethical, and further damaging to the perception that your administration cares little for the rule of law. We are requesting that you provide us with any documents, memos, or other communication between anyone in your administration and the litigants in this Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case.

We look forward to your prompt response on these matters.


Spencer Bachus (AL-06)
Jeff Denham (CA-19)
Doug Lamborn (CO-05)
Dennis Ross (FL-12)
Jack Kingston (GA-01)
Phil Gingrey (GA-11)
Steve King (IA-05)
Don Manzullo (IL-16)
Dan Burton (IN-05)
Mike Pence (IN-06)
Tim Huelskamp (KS-01)
Lynn Jenkins (KS-02)
Mike Pompeo (KS-04)
Jeff Landry (LA-03)
John Fleming (LA-04)
Roscoe Bartlett (MD-06)
Bill Huizenga (MI-02)
Tim Walberg (MI-07)
Michele Bachmann (MN-06)
Todd Akin (MO-02)
Vicky Hartzler (MO-04)
Walter Jones (NC-03)
Chris Smith (NJ-04)
Steve Pearce (NM-02)
Jim Jordan (OH-04)
Bob Latta (OH-05)
Bill Johnson (OH-06)
Steve Austria (OH-07)
James Lankford (OK-05)
Mike Kelly (PA-03)
Joe Pitts (PA-16)
Jeff Duncan (SC-03)
Phil Roe (TN-01)
Chuck Fleischmann (TN-03)
Scott DesJarlais (TN-04)
Stephen Fincher (TN-08)
Louis Gohmert (TX-01)
Ralph Hall (TX-04)
Mike Conaway (TX-11)
Bill Flores (TX-17)
Randy Neugebauer (TX-19)
Francisco "Quico" Canseco (TX-23)
Rob Bishop (UT-01)
Reid Ribble (WI-08)