Skip to Main Content

DOMA Ruling May Alter Campaign Finance Laws

June 27, 2013, Caplin & Drysdale


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.

About Caplin & Drysdale
Celebrating our 55th Anniversary in 2019, Caplin & Drysdale continues to be a leading provider of legal services to corporations, individuals, and nonprofits throughout the United States and around the world. We are also privileged to serve as legal advisors to accounting firms, financial institutions, law firms, and other professional services organizations.

The firm's reputation over the years has earned us the trust and respect of clients, industry peers, and government agencies. Moreover, clients rely on our broad knowledge of the law and our keen insights into their business concerns and personal interests. Our lawyers' strong tactical and problem-solving skills -- combined with substantial experience handling a variety of complex, high stakes, matters in a boutique environment -- make us one the nation's most distinctive law firms.

With offices in New York City and Washington, D.C., Caplin & Drysdale's core practice areas include:
For more information, please visit us at
Washington, DC Office:
One Thomas Circle NW
Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
New York, NY Office:
295 Madison Avenue
12th Floor
New York, NY 10017


This communication does not provide legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship with you or any other reader. If you require legal guidance in any specific situation, you should engage a qualified lawyer for that purpose. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Attorney Advertising
It is possible that under the laws, rules, or regulations of certain jurisdictions, this may be construed as an advertisement or solicitation.
© 2022 Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered
All Rights Reserved.

Related Professionals

Related Practice Area(s)