Document Type


Publication Date



Windsor, same-sex marriage, Anthony Kennedy, federalism, equal protection


This essay argues that federalism played a profoundly important role in the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Windsor, which struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Arguments to the contrary have failed to appreciate how Justice Kennedy's opinion employed federalism not as a freestanding argument but as an essential component of his rights analysis. Far from being a "muddle," as many have claimed, Justice Kennedy's analysis offered one of the most sophisticated examples to date of the interconnections between federalism, liberty, and equality.