Judge Suspends Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Policy ‘Infringes On Fundamental Rights’

Dadt60 U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips dealt a huge blow to Don't Ask Don't Tell this afternoon, when she ruled that the military policy "infringes on the fundamental rights" of servicemembers.

Basically, the 17-year old restrictions on openly gay soldiers are unconstitutional and all further discharges must stop.

"'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' infringes on the fundamental rights of United States servicemembers and prospective servicemembers and violates (a) the substantive due process rights guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment," wrote Phillips in her three-page ruling on a case brought by the Log Cabin Republicans.

"And (b) the rights to freedom of speech and to petition the Government for redress of grievances guaranteed by the First Amendment."

Phillips' ruling, which comes two-weeks after a more narrow ruling and a Department of Justice objection, orders the government and Defense Department to immediately "suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding, that may have been commenced under the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Act."

The government now has 60 days, until December 16, to appeal the ruling, which they're currently reviewing. Chances are that the Obama Administration will indeed appeal, because the President has made clear he wants Congress to handle Don't Ask's demise.

Though this is all exciting news, Servicemembers United suggested "caution." "This order from Judge Phillips is another historic and courageous step in the right direction, a step that Congress has been noticeably slow in taking," said executive director and co-plaintiff Alexander Nicholson. "While this is certainly news to be celebrated we would also advise caution in advance of a potential stay from the Ninth Circuit. If the appellate court wishes to put itself on the right side of history, however, it will allow this sound and long-over due decision to remain in effect."


  1. Brian says

    You can be certain that our “fierce advocate” will appeal this decision. I’m sure he certainly doesn’t want to appear as having a backbone, after all it wasn’t a bi-partisan effort.

  2. Klek says

    Finally! What no politician had the will to do (even though they promised), our the third branch of government accomplished. The 17 years of witch hunts, the requirement to lie about your fundamental identity, and all the ruined careers will finally stop. DADT was the most unconstitutional law in modern times and it was an insult to every American citizen. May nothing like DADT ever rise again! I have a new-found respect for the Log Cabin Republicans. Where was the HRC during this fight? Probably pandering to keep their White House and congressional access instead of doing anything meaningful.

  3. will says

    YEAH! I’m a Captain in the USAF and I’m gay and finally am so great to see this happen. I have my doubts if it will stand or not. i know there is a chance for a repeal. but for now, I’m excited. I have a boyfriend who we have been dating for the better part of a year and he’s a great guy and I’m proud to serve my country and proud to be who I am. I’m so frreakin’ excited I can barely stand still right now :):)


  4. crispy says

    So the Log Cabin Republicans have done more to advance gay rights than President Obama and a majority Democrat congress.

    It’s like we live in Bizarro World.

  5. Rob says

    One can only hope that the judge’s order will stand…but…based on the recent past…I’d bet the Obama DOJ will appeal. It seems that the Prez needs a reality check if he thinks the Congress is going to do anything to change DADT anytime soon regardless of what happens in next month’s mid-term elections. Unfortunately, we won’t know what the DOJ will do until AFTER the mid-terms. However, if it does appeal, I’m afraid Obama’s chances of currying much favor with his GLBT constituency will be pure unadulterated fantasy. Not a good sign for his 2012 re-election prospects.

  6. Garst says

    Too bad for Obama, it’s not up to congress to enforce laws (or on rare occasions, declare them unconstitutional). Hopefully, the court system doesn’t cave to the executive branch.

  7. Jerry says

    Pres. Obama and especially Eric Holder are COWARDS if they appeal this decision and hide behind Congressional legislative appeal as the only “way”. This president has consistently refused, in the most cowardly manner, to STOP the DADT dismissals- something he could have easily accomplished with a stop-loss order.

  8. adamblast says

    I’m not holding my breath. I wish I was more optimistic. But power trumps principle today, and they’ll find a way to continue their discrimination. My sad prediction says this will be undone before it is even felt.

  9. Mike says

    @Drew – That appeal is in reference to DOMA, not DADT. We were fully expecting the appeal in the DOMA case with the hopes that if it wins on appeal and possibly goes to the Supreme Court it could change DOMA laws for the whole country and not just MA.

    They will probably appeal this ruling too. It’s a shame that they constantly have a backbone to stand up to their base and constantly tell us NO. I wish they would start standing up to the other side, but that’s not how the game works.

  10. mstrozfckslv@yahoo.com says

    the log cabinites have not done more to promote gay rights

    Bill Clinton did

    “Phillips was nominated by President Bill Clinton to be a district judge for the Central District”

    Democratic president nominating her to the bench did far more than the log cabinites

  11. WayneMPLS says

    Thank you for your service to our country Will, I hope you and your boyfriend celebrate and know you have our gratitude for your sacrifices!!! Thank you too, Judge Phillips.

  12. FunMe says

    Kevin, I agree that the Obama administration is made up of COWARDS.
    Sad, that he could not follow the words of the wonderful MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

    “Cowardice asks the question – is it safe?
    Expediency asks the question – is it politic?
    Vanity asks the question – is it popular?
    But conscience asks the question – is it right?

    And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.”

    Obama’s mother and MLK would be ashamed of Obama.

  13. Jay says

    It’s looking more and more like Obama is going to be a one-term president. Unfortunately, it’s likely that means we’ll have a republican/tea-party freak take control, unless the dems are smart enough to nominate someone like Hilary Clinton in Obama’s place.

    Lately, Obama and his group of apologists have been touting all their “successes” over the last two years. All of them are just marginally successes, mostly because the democrats have allowed the Republicans to define the debates, run the PR, and generally weld the power that the Dems should have. The Dems have become an embarrasment of lost chances.

    I mean, seriously, it took a *year* to pass health insurance reform, and the resulting package was so watered down it might as well not even have been passed (yes, there are a few good provisions). The real fail was just how ugly and protracting Obama allowed the process to become.

    And, now, when Obama has the chance to right long-standing wrongs and remind everyone of what America strives for, he will cave once again, allowing discrimination and hatred to continue and remanding yet another group to second-class status.

  14. justiceontherocks says

    What is the HRC’s spin on the DOJ decision to appeal. Should we all be patient and trust their secret plan, because they know how Washington works?

    Maybe we should be as mad as the teabaggers.

Leave A Reply