At the beginning of the second hour, Paul Clement is defending DOMA. He states his point clearly: Congress has power to define marriage for the purpose of all the many federal programs that have long relied on a marriage classification, and even though it has long treated couples as married when they are married according to state law, it had the "flexibility" to exclude same-sex marriages when some states switched from the traditional definition of marriage. The states still control the definition of marriage, in this view, and all Congress did was define the scope of the coverage of the federal programs.
The first Justice to break in is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who seems prepared with her own succinct argument:
Mr. Clement, the problem is(The strikeout shows where I corrected the transcript, based on the audio.)
if we are totally forit would totally thwart the States' decision that there is a marriage between two people, for the Federal Government then to come in to say no joint return, no marital deduction, no Social Security benefits; your spouse is very sick but you can't get leave... one might well ask, what kind of marriage is this?
Ginsburg returns to this idea later in the argument, after Clement asserts that the states don't "los[e] any benefits" — they are merely blocked from "open[ing] up an additional class of beneficiaries."
JUSTICE GINSBURG: They're not -- they're not a question of additional benefits. I mean, they touch every aspect of life. Your partner is sick. Social Security. I mean, it's pervasive. It's not as though, well, there's this little Federal sphere and it's only a tax question. It's -- it's -- as Justice Kennedy said, 1100 statutes, and it affects every area of life. And soIt's an interesting puzzle. What is a marriage? Is it the bundle of benefits you receive? Marriage is seen as something left to the states in American federalism, but to say that is to ignore the immensity of what the federal government does, much of it hinging on this marriage classification that refers to state law. You really do have much less of a marriage if you don't get all those federal things, but these federal programs all rest on an enumerated power — taxing, spending, etc. — and why wouldn't the feds, in designing any given program have, within that power, the power to delineate who qualifies?
he wasyou would really [be] diminishing what the State has said is marriage. You're saying, no, State said two kinds of marriage; the full marriage, and then this sort of skim milk marriage.
I'm only talking about whether Congress has an enumerated power, not whether this exercise of that power violates the equal protection right, which is also part of this case. And obviously, I'm not talking about the things government does not even attempt to do with marriage — which is to determine whose love relationships are "full" in an emotional and spiritual way.