Federal court orders temporary continuation of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

Alec Jacobs Contributor
Font Size:

Late Friday, a federal appeals court in California ordered the military to continue enforcement of its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in response to a request from the Obama administration, the AP reports.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said the three-page ruling was based on previously withheld information about the policy. The court made the decision to keep the policy in place in order to “consider fully the issues presented in the light of these previously undisclosed facts.”

The court had ordered the military halt enforcement of the policy earlier this month, but Obama’s Department of Justice filed an emergency motion Thursday asking for continuation of the policy. The DOJ said ending the policy now would put the process of dismantling “don’t ask, don’t tell” into disarray.

A statement from the DOJ said it asked the court “to avoid short-circuiting the repeal process established by Congress during the final stages of the implementation of the repeal.”

“The situation with finally ending this outdated and discriminatory federal policy has become absolutely ridiculous,” said Alexander Nicholson, the executive director of Servicemembers United, a group of gay and lesbian troops and veterans.

“It is simply not right to put the men and woman of our armed forces through this circus any longer,” he added.

Supporters of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” aren’t really in a position to celebrate the court’s ruling. The continuation of the policy is essentially just a technicality, because the Justice Department wants the federal government (not the courts) to be in control of the timetable for repeal. The decision also bars the government from investigating, punishing or discharging servicemembers in violation of the policy.

The chiefs of the military services submitted their own recommendations on repeal to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta last week. The Pentagon now has to certify that repeal of the policy would have no effect on military readiness. Implementation of repeal could happen as soon as September.