Thursday November 11, 2010

Obama Admin Asks Supreme Court to Keep DADT in Place

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 11, 2010 ( – The U.S. Justice Department has requested that the U.S. Supreme Court keep in place an appeals court order reinstating the 1993 federal law against homosexuals serving in the military. The ban is commonly referred to by a corresponding Pentagon enforcement policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT).

Neal Katyal, the acting U.S. solicitor general, on Wednesday submitted the government’s response to the high court on Wednesday urging the justices to reject the emergency appeal filed by the Log Cabin Republicans. The GOP homosexual advocates group applied to Justice Anthony Kennedy to overturn the 9th US Circuit Court’s ruling that overturned U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips of Riverside’s worldwide injunction on DADT.

Phillips declared the law unconstitutional in February, and put the injunction into effect in October. The injunction remained in place until 10 days later, when a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit stepped in, and issued an indefinite stay on Phillips’ order, putting DADT back into effect, until the appeals process had worked itself out in the courts.

The Obama Justice Department argued that a court-ordered end to DADT would have harmful effects on the U.S. military and hamper an “orderly” transition.

“The military should not be required to suddenly and immediately restructure a major personnel policy that has been in place for years, particularly during a time when the nation is involved in combat operations overseas,” stated Clifford L. Stanley, under-secretary of defense for personnel readiness, in a document supporting the government’s case.

“Overall, an abrupt change – without adequate planning or time to implement a plan – substantially increases the probability of failure or backlash in the early months of this transition, months that will be critical to our long-term success.”

The report of the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Review Working Group (CRWG) on DADT is scheduled for release on December 1, but has already generated controversy since its findings were leaked to the press. A Washington Post article quoted one anonymous Pentagon source as saying they wanted to get the word out that 70 percent of U.S. military members had no problem with DADT repeal “out of concern that groups opposed to ending the ban would mischaracterize the findings.”

However, the leak drew criticism from Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, a former US Marine, who called on the Pentagon to disavow and formally investigate the source of the leak.

“It’s laughable to argue that people who anonymously leak one-sided information to a reporter are less likely to ‘mischaracterize the findings’ of a ten-month study than are people who wait to read that 370-page study in full,” said Perkins.

“We have criticized this study from the outset because the CRWG was forbidden to explore the central question before the country – not how to implement a repeal of the current law, but whether doing so is in the best interest of the armed forces.”

Perkins added that the surveys were also biased against evaluating the merits of retaining DADT, since none of the surveys received by troops or their spouses ever asked, “Do you believe the current law should be overturned?”

Currently only the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a repeal of DADT. The Senate will likely face a vote on DADT’s repeal during the lame-duck session. Passage of the bill so far has been blocked thanks to a GOP filibuster led by Vietnam veteran Sen. John McCain, although the strength of his coalition will likely be tested by the CRWG’s report in December, when the Senate is sure to have another vote.

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