Custom Search

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Upheld By U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Keeps Ban On Gays From Openly Serving In The Military

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that a controversial law prohibiting homosexuals from openly serving in the armed forces can remain in place while the government appeals a Federal Judge's decision striking down the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Act.

A gay rights group asked the high court to overturn a stay order from the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals keeping the law in effect while that court reviews the case. The petition from the Log Cabin Republicans was presented to Justice Anthony Kennedy who is responsible for handling emergency requests out of the Ninth Circuit.

Kennedy's order simply said, "the application to vacate the stay entered by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on November 1, 2010, presented to Justice Kennedy and by him referred to the Court is denied." The order also noted that Justice Elena Kagan, who until this summer was Solicitor General, didn't take part in the case.

In September, Judge Virginia Phillips said the law was unconstitutional because it infringes on the fundamental rights of gay service members and concluded that the policy does not improve military readiness or unit cohesion. More than 13,000 people have been forced out since the law took effect in 1993.

Judge Phillips then ordered that the military immediately stop enforcing the law but her ruling was enjoined by the Ninth Circuit on November 1. Friday's ruling by the Supreme Court affirms the Ninth Circuit's decision to maintain the status quo while the government appeals the initial judgment invalidating the law.

The Obama Administration has defended the law in every court proceeding even though it has publically voiced its opposition to it and its desire to have Congress repeal the measure. It's unclear what impact the recent election results will have on that pursuit.

Why Obama Pushed To Reinstate Don't Ask, Don't Tell

A Federal Appeals Court has, at the urging of the White House, granted a temporary stay on an Oct. 12 order by a district court judge to stop enforcing "don't ask, don't tell," which bars openly gay men and women from serving in the military. Many observers are surprised to see the Obama administration, which has opposed the policy and sought its repeal through Congress, lobbying the appeals court to keep the ban in place.

The stay is temporary and is designed to maintain the status quo until the appeal court can formally review the policy. The Pentagon announced on Wednesday that it would begin allowing openly gay recruits; the New York Times reports that this court stay "almost certainly means the government will go back to enforcing" don't ask, don't tell. Here's what people are saying about this development and what it means for the controversial policy.

Obama Explains the Move.

The Associated Press's Lisa Leff reports, "President Barack Obama said last week that the Clinton-era law 'will end on my watch' but added that 'It has to be done in a way that is orderly, because we are involved in a war right now.'

He said he supports repeal of the policy, but only after careful review and an act of Congress. ... Government lawyers argue that striking down the policy and ordering the Pentagon to immediately allow openly gay service members could harm troop morale and unit cohesion when the military is fighting two wars."

The Department of Justice issues a statement:

“Proper implementation of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’s’ repeal cannot occur overnight,” the Justice Department filing says, indicating that the amount of time needed to end the policy is the subject of a Pentagon working group review due out on December 1.

“An abrupt, court-ordered end to the statute would pretermit (sic) the Working Group’s efforts to ensure that the military completes development of the necessary policies and regulations for a successful and orderly implementation of any repeal of § 654. The significant impairment of the Department’s efforts to devise an orderly end to the statute would cause irreparable harm,” the Justice Department wrote.

Legal Complications if DADT Repealed Too Quickly.

The New York Times' Sabrina Tavernise and John Schwartz write, "Military officers have argued that if the change is made too quickly, it will place the military on a collision course with federal statutes. Families and spouses of soldiers have access to benefits like housing, health care and education through marriage, which the federal government does not recognize for same-sex couples."

Now Obama Owns a Policy He Opposes.

The American Prospect's Adam Serwer warned before the White House secured its sought-after stay, "if the administration successfully appeals Judge Phillips's decision, it will find itself obligated to enforce a policy the president himself says he opposes and that he says undermines national security, a policy with no empirical, legal, or moral basis.

The administration will have effectively instituted its own Proposition 8, retroactively denying rights to individuals who already have them. That will be significantly harder to explain or justify than simply maintaining the status quo. After having promised to repeal DADT, Obama would be responsible for its ongoing survival."

Obama Is Losing Control.

Liberal blogger Joe Sudbay fumes, "Well, DADT is the law of the land again -- at least for now. This has gotten absurd. The White House has lost control of this situation and it looks bad. I hope whoever concocted the Obama administration's strategy on DADT (and those who enabled it, meaning HRC and Winnie Stachelberg at CAP) grasp the magnitude of how screwed up this is. The people who are suffering here are the men and women who are willing to put their lives on the line for the rest of us.

View Larger Map

Sources: AP, Atlantic Wire, CNN, Democracy Now, Fox News, MSNBC, Youtube, Google Maps

No comments: