US District Judge Virginia Phillips, a Democrat and Clinton appointee in Riverside CA, ruled on Sep. 9 that Bill Clinton's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy forced on the military was un-Constitutional. On Oct. 12, she issued an injunction against the US military, demanding that they cease all processing of any action under this policy immediately.
One of Obama's campaign promises, made specifically to galvanize support of the gay and lesbian communities, was the abolishment of "Don't ask, Don't tell".
The lawsuit which prompted Judge Phillips' ruling and injunction was brought by a gay Republican organization "Log Cabin Republicans", against the US Government. Representing the US Government was Obama's DoJ lawyer team.
The Judge's ruling and injunction have been denounced by military leadership. The abolishment of "Don't ask, Don't tell" is a touchy subject in the military, and there are very valid concerns over what abolishment will do to the services and its members. Studies are underway to examine the issue and determine what the likely effects will be. Obama himself has signed on to the studies, publicly saying that we have to be careful when addressing this. He has not backed off his desire to get rid of the policy, he's just making what appears to be a sensible approach to it. (This sensible approach has pissed off his gay and lesbian supporters, who feel like repeal of the policy should have been immediate, consequences be damned.)
Obama's DoJ, and Obama himself since he directs their efforts, are in a hell of a sticky position on this. Obama wants to get rid of the policy. The lawsuit and the Judge's rulings put his DoJ in the position of deciding whether to appeal the Judge's decision, to block her injunction and keep "Don't ask, Don't tell" in force for the time being.
One has to wonder if the DoJ will fight the ruling, to give the studies the time Obama promised to give them, or if they will quietly back off and let the injunction stand - which will in effect deliver to gays and lesbians what Obama promised them. Quite the dilemma for Mr. Obama.
I hope the DoJ plays straight with this one, and fights the injunction - but I think they'll roll over, play dead, and let it stand - and then Obama can blame the court for the chaos which will follow.
As a sidebar, I have to wonder this... Setting aside any personal feelings I have about the base issue, I am concerned over how this sets a precedent for the courts to stick their noses into the military world and tell our armed services what they can and can't do. Congress and the President have control over the military (Congress through funding, the President through his capacity as Commander-In-Chief). The Judicial branch really has nothing to do with military opeations or policy. Allowing a lower level Federal Judge to issue an injunction that invalidates a standing military policy sets an incredible precedent. Where are the limits to this? What is to stop the left wing loonies on the 9th District Court from issuing an injunction against the military forbidding operations in Afghanistan? All they would need is some kook to file an applicable lawsuit to give them a vehicle to issue such an order. If you think this is a wild impossibility, just look at the lunacy that is going on in our government right now and you will realize that the far left thinks they can do anything they want to at this point in time.
Update - almost before I could get the above post done, the DoJ actually urged Judge Phillips to stay her ruling, to leave "Don't ask, Don't tell" in place for now. Their arguments were not based upon whether the policy was right or wrong, but to avoid the confusion and disruption that would occur in the military if the policy was halted with no plan for implementation.
Obama once again stated his goal to have the policy rescinded, but that he wanted it done according to the studies underway and in controlled fashion.
I applaud Obama and his DoJ for apparently playing this straight up. If he and the far left, and the gay and lesbian communities want the policy gone, there is a proper path to accomplish that, and Obama is trying to follow it. He may secretly wish that the Judge is successful, and take the matter off his hands, but as C-in-C he is supposed to do it the right way. Publicly, at least, he is doing that, and I have to recognize the correctness of his approach.
Damn ... it hurts me to say that ...