The Court spent the first 40 minutes of oral argument in Windsor addressing whether the justices even have the power under Article III to decide the case. The justices explored the President’s responsibility under the Take Care Clause of the Constitution to enforce the law, and whether the President also has an obligation to either enforce or abandon enforcement of a law that the Administration considers unconstitutional. Windsor presents a very unusual situation in which the government agrees with the legal rationale of the lower court’s ruling against the government, but nevertheless wants the Supreme Court to hear the case and strike down DOMA. The questioning and dialogue in these clips goes to the heart of whether the President’s obligation to enforce the law or whether the more than $300,000 in benefits owed to Ms. Windsor according to the lower court ruling is sufficient to allow the Court to consider the case.
Additionally, the Court’s questioning in this clip reflects the justices’ discomfort with providing standing to House Republicans seeking to compel enforcement of DOMA. The Supreme Court has declined to recognize general public action standing to bring suit in federal courts, and the arguments in Windsor suggest that the justices are not enthusiastic about the possibility of granting standing to members of the House absent specific statutory authorization.