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Cardona v. Shinseki

The clinic represented Carmen Cardona, a disabled Navy veteran who served her country honorably for eighteen years, in her successful application for spousal benefits. Ms. Cardona married another woman under the laws of the State of Connecticut. The VA denied Ms. Cardona’s application for dependency benefits because she married a woman, and the clinic represented her on appeal first to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and then to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). When the Secretary of Veterans Affairs announced he would enforce but not defend the constitutionality of 38 U.S.C. § 101(31) (defining “spouse” as “a person of the opposite sex who is a wife or husband”), the U.S. House of Representatives, acting through the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, intervened. Students appeared and argued twice before the CAVC, which eventually dismissed the appeal as moot after the Secretary of Veterans Affairs advised the Court that he would neither defend nor enforce § 101(31), Cardona v. Shinseki, 26 Vet. App. 472 (2014), and Ms. Cardona received full payment of her spousal benefits, retroactive to her date of application.

Opinion and Order, Cardona v. Shinseki, U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, No. 11-3083 (Mar. 11, 2014) (per curiam) (dismissing appeal as moot)

Opinion and Order, Cardona v. Shinseki, U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, No. 11-3083 (Aug. 13, 2012) (Kasold, CJ) (denying motion of intervenor BLAG for access to appellant’s medical records)

Decision of the Board of Veterans Appeals (Aug. 30, 2011)

Appellant's Principal Brief, Cardona v. Shinseki, No. 11-3083 (Vet. App.) (Apr. 19, 2012)

Brief of the State of Connecticut as Amicus Curaie in Support of the Appellant, Carmen Cardona, Cardona v. Shinseki, No. 11-3083 (Vet. App.) (Apr. 25, 2012)

Brief of Amici Curiae United States Constitutional and Family Law Professors in Support of Appellant, Cardona v. Shinseki, No. 11-3083 (Vet. App.) (Apr. 25, 2012)

Brief of National Veterans’ Service Organizations as Amici Curiae in Support of Appellant Carmen J. Cardona, Cardona v. Shinseki, No. 11-3083 (Vet. App.) (Apr. 26, 2012)

Brief for Amici Curiae Retired Military Officers Supporting Appellant, Cardona v. Shinseki, No. 11-3083 (Vet. App.) (Apr. 26, 2012)

Brief of Disability Rights Advocates as Amicus Curiae in Support of Appellant, Cardona v. Shinseki, No. 11-3083 (Vet. App.) (Apr. 26, 2012)

Brief of Amici Curiae 15 Public-Interest Organizations and Legal Service Organizations in Support of Appellant, Cardona v. Shinseki, No. 11-3083 (Vet. App.) (Apr. 26, 2012)

Brief of Appellee, Cardona v. Shinseki, No. 11-3083 (Vet. App.) (Jun. 11, 2012)

Brief of Intervenor-Appellee Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives, Cardona v. Shinseki, No. 11-3083 (Vet. App.) (Aug. 31, 2012)

Reply Brief of Appellee, Cardona v. Shinseki, No. 11-3083 (Vet. App.) (Sept. 14, 2012)

Appellant’s Reply Brief, Cardona v. Shinseki, No. 11-3083 (Vet. App.) (Sept. 14, 2012)

Final Decision of the Court of Appeals of Veterans Claims, Cardona v. Shinseki, No. 11-3083 (Vet. App.) (Mar. 11, 2014)

Selected Motions and Orders:

Motion of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives for Access to the Record Before the Agency, Cardona v. Shinseki, No. 11-3083 (Vet. App.) (Jun. 26, 2012)

Secretary’s Response to the Motion of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives for Access to the Record Before the Agency, Cardona v. Shinseki, No. 11-3083 (Vet. App.) (Jun. 29, 2012)

Appellant’s Memorandum of Law in Opposition to BLAG’s Motion for Access to the Record Before the Agency, Cardona v. Shinseki, No. 11-3083 (Vet. App.) (July 30, 2012)

Reply in Support of Motion of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives for Access to the Record Before the Agency, Cardona v. Shinseki, No. 11-3083 (Vet. App.) (July 13, 2012)

Motion of Appellant to Seal Portions of the Case and Exclude the Intervenor From Electronic Access to the RBA, Cardona v. Shinseki, No. 11-3083 (Vet. App.) (July 24, 2012)

Order, Cardona v. Shinseki, No. 11-3083 (Vet. App.) (Aug. 13, 2012)

Media clips:

James Dao, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sides With Veteran in DOMA Case, The New York Times, May 11, 2012

Mary E. O’Leary, Disabled veteran, denied spousal benefit, finds support, Torrington Register Citizen, April 28, 2012

James Dao, Denied Veterans Benefits Over Same-Sex Marriage, Ex-Sailor Challenges Law, The New York Times, Oct 12, 2011

Navy vet sues over denial of disability benefits for same-sex spouse, Stars & Stripes, October 12, 2011

Joshua Rhett Miller, Disabled Navy Veteran in Same-Sex Marriage to Sue for Benefits, FoxNews.com, Oct 13, 2011

Sam Favate, DOMA Challenge Heads To Veterans Court Of Appeals, WSJ Blog, Oct 14, 2011

Gavan Gideon and Daniel Sisgoreo, Law students aid veteran’s appeal, Yale Daily News, October 14, 2011

Jennifer McDermott, Norwich woman suing VA for her benefits, The Day, Oct 14, 2011

Wives suing for same-sex benefits, nbc-2.com, Oct 16, 2011

Editorial: Another Test of Marriage Equality, The New York Times, October 17, 2011

Marie P. Grady, Gay Veteran Wages Federal Benefits Battle; Yale clinic takes first impression to special appeals court, Connecticut Law Tribune, October 24, 2011

Win Vitkowsky, Lawsuit Against U.S. Navy Attempts To End Discrimination Against Gay Veterans, ct.com, Oct 26, 2011