“I will convene a meeting of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group for the purpose of initiating action by the House to defend this law of the United States, which was enacted by a bipartisan vote in Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton,” Boehner said in a press release. “It is regrettable that the Obama Administration has opened this divisive issue at a time when Americans want their leaders to focus on jobs and the challenges facing our economy. The constitutionality of this law should be determined by the courts — not by the president unilaterally — and this action by the House will ensure the matter is addressed in a manner consistent with our Constitution.”
According to the announcement, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group is a five-member panel consisting of the Speaker of the House, Majority Leader, Majority Whip, Minority Leader, and Minority Whip. Under House rules, the advisory group has the authority to instruct the non-partisan office of the House General Counsel to take legal action on behalf of the House of Representatives.
Last month U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that President Obama had made a determination that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), 1 U.S.C. § 7, as applied to same-sex couples who are legally married under state law, violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment – and had instructed the Justice Department not to defend the statute in two cases currently before the Second Circuit – Pedersen v. OPM and Windsor v. United States (see Department of Justice to no Longer Defend DOMA).