Supreme Court Keeps ‘Don’t Ask’ in Place Through Appeals Process

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2010 — The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that the law ban­ning gays from serv­ing open­ly in the mil­i­tary will stay in place while the case moves through the fed­er­al appeals court process.
The court denied with­out com­ment an emer­gency request from a gay rights group to sus­pend imple­men­ta­tion of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law while it is under review by the 9th Cir­cuit Court of Appeals in San Fran­cis­co.

Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates and Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen have said imple­men­ta­tion of the repeal of the 1993 law would take time to do prop­er­ly, and that con­gres­sion­al repeal would be less dis­rup­tive than hav­ing the law over­turned by the courts. The appeals court report­ed­ly can­not hear the case until at least March.

DOD believes the deci­sion uphold­ing the stay was appro­pri­ate,” a Defense Depart­ment offi­cial said today.

The Log Cab­in Repub­li­cans’ emer­gency request fol­lows the 9th Circuit’s deci­sion Nov. 1 to stay a low­er judge’s rul­ing that found the law uncon­sti­tu­tion­al. That deci­sion, by fed­er­al Dis­trict Judge Vir­ginia Phillips on Oct. 12, put an imme­di­ate injunc­tion on the law, stop­ping imple­men­ta­tion of it world­wide until Oct. 20, when the appeals court approved an emer­gency request by the Jus­tice Depart­ment to sus­pend Phillips’ rul­ing while the case was under appeal.

The Supreme Court’s deci­sion today keeps the appeals court deci­sion in place while it con­tin­ues to review the law’s con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty.

The appeals court on Nov. 1 wrote that the gov­ern­ment was con­vinc­ing in its argu­ment that the lack of an order­ly tran­si­tion “will pro­duce imme­di­ate harm and pre­cip­i­tous injury.” The pan­el fur­ther stat­ed that the courts should show def­er­ence in cas­es involv­ing the mil­i­tary.

Gates ordered a Defense Depart­ment review of the law’s impact and pos­si­ble repeal ear­li­er this year. The results are due back to him Dec. 1.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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