DOJ Official: Defending DADT and DOMA Has Been ‘Difficult’

In an interview published today, Talking Points Memo asks Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Tony West about the Obama administration and gay rights.

West Says West: "Those are difficult cases because as you know the administration has a long standing policy view on this — supports the repeal of DOMA and supports the repeal of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'…The Department of Justice, notwithstanding the administration policy view which is strongly held by us, has an institutional responsibility to defend the constitutionality of congressional statutes, whether we agree with them or not."

TPM adds:

West said Monday that DOJ was discharging its responsibility to the tradition of the Justice Department while making adjustments to the arguments in line with the administration's views.

"I think that the best example — let me give you one — in the Defense of Marriage Act — you'll notice that we have not only discharged our responsibility to defend the constitutionality of a congressional statute, but we've done so in a way which reflects the policy values of this administration," West said.


  1. Alex 0_0 says

    Bullshit. The Obama DOJ is the most homophobic department of government. Tony West has signed dozens of homophobic briefs. What a shameless liar, he must take us for fools: We’re not, we can read.

  2. Brad says

    Aww, I’m feeling so sorry for you! NOT! What a load of steaming BS! The DoJ didn’t have to defend DADT or DOMA just like they haven’t defended other laws that presidents throughout American history thought were unconstitutional or abhorrent. DADT was defended and declared unconstitutional. They did their duty, the courts effectively made DADT illegal. What did DoJ do? They appealed it, resurrecting it when it was a dead issue. No, they were just following the orders of the Homophobe-in-Chief. Please! Mr. West, save your silver-tongued crap for the courtroom.

  3. Lonnie says

    LGBT people who continues to vote for Democrats are like Jews who vote for Nazis. We’ll never be equal so long as we insist gay bashers be the ones to “free” us.

  4. Fenrox says

    Yeah, I too will call bullshit on something I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT. But hey, I kinda read some articles by people that also don’t really know the situation.

    How many freaking people need to say “This isn’t that easy” for you people to get it. You guys are such assholes that all this hatred and impatience stems from your disappointment in his TIMING of getting rid of these policies.

    You guys are pouting and it’s really shitty. And I seriously believe that none of you can find a more constructive way to get your point across, You guys are that stupid and horrible, go join the Tea Party, if you haven’t already.

  5. FunMe says

    Blah, blah, blah … I don’t hear you.

    More BS from the department of “justice”.

    I can see, smell, and hear HOMOPHOBES a mile away, especially the DOJ ones.

  6. justiceontherocks says

    FenRox – are you off your meds?

    Nothing in the Constitution or federal law requires the DOJ to defend laws the administration believes are unconstitutional. That’s not “pouting.” That ‘s a fact.

  7. Brian in Texas says

    The administration never said they thought DADT and DOMA were unconstitutional. That is what they are fighting in court. They simply believe that it is an unjust and unfair law. Which is true.

    Every bad, prejudiced, unjust law isn’t always necessarily unconstitutional as well.

  8. TANK says

    The answer is yes. Fenrox is an idiotic fool who endorsed stripping DADT from the defense reauthorization bill as per knights out and the palm center’s “advice”. It has no interest in gay civil equality…much like a member of goproud.

    Has it been rough to defend bigoted laws? Awwwwwwww…imagine how rough it is to be victimized by them. This is soundbite game to appeal to the wealth of stupid voters in the lgbt community.

  9. BartB says

    Fenrox – you seriously need some help distinguishing reality from idol worship. Beyond the junior high school childishness of how you frame whatever it is exactly you’re trying to say (point being: grow up, your writing makes you appear to be a whiny, bitchy little brat who can’t handle that people disagree with him,) you are simply not correct. The DOJ is not required (there is no “institutional responsibility”) to file briefs defending anything. Sorry. Fact: THEY DO NOT HAVE TO. The DOJ works for the administration. If the Obama Administration didn’t want to defend a federal law, the DOJ could just sit on their hands. It may be a blanket Obama Administration policy to defend any federal law found to be unconstitutional, but again, it’s not a must.

  10. the greasybear says

    Ah, Brian, but DADT and DOMA *are* unconstitutional according to a handful of courts where Obama elected–elected–to use the power of the Executive to single-handedly prop up anti-gay discrimination where it was struck down.

  11. Chitown Kev says

    “you’ll notice that we have not only discharged our responsibility to defend the constitutionality of a congressional statute, but we’ve done so in a way which reflects the policy values of this administration,” West said.”

    Really, Tony?

    You’re reflecting the policy values of this Administration.

    That is a stunning statement that I am sure that John Aravosis will pounce on; in fact, that’s so stupendously stunning of a statement that I won’t blame Aravosis for pouncing on that.

    Well, Obamabots, discuss that statement.

  12. pParkerT says

    The Nazi comparison is classy, Lonnie. You keep being you!

    As for the DOJ, your argument is one big fail: Is this why you’re too busy to prosecute the laws against waterboarding? The DOJ has convicted people of using waterboarding in the past; why aren’t Bush and Rummie in custody?

  13. Jersey says

    Fenrox you can spout your idiocy all you want but I can see with my own eyes that Obama sucks on a whole range of issues from allowing war criminals to walk away scott free to bailing out evil banksters to firing a remarkable civil servant like Shirley Sherrod because he’s so afraid of the republicans. He’s a coward through and through and I will not be voting for him again. He’d better hope someone like Bloomberg doesn’t run in 2012.

  14. gridlock says

    “The DOJ has an institutional responsibility to defend the constitutionality of congressional statutes, whether we agree with them or not.”

    YOU LIE. There have been a number of congressional statutes that the administration has decided not to defend in court that are IDENTICAL in nature.

    You were DIRECTED to defend them. You are not inherently obligated to defend congressional statutes UNLESS the administration views them as constitutional.

    Why the fuck do you think Obama OUTRIGHT REFUSES to answer the question of whether or not he thinks DOMA, DADT and the rest are constitutional or not?

    YOU LIE, sir. YOU LIE.

  15. the greasybear says

    Just so this is clear: Obama’s DOJ could have declined to appeal the death-knell of DADT, just like Obama’s DOJ declined to appeal an adverse ruling overturning National Park Service restrictions on conservative religious evangelizing in National Parks–look it up for yourself. The adverse decision Obama’s DOJ elected not to appeal last month is here:

  16. JeffNYC says

    “The Department of Justice, notwithstanding the administration policy view which is strongly held by us, has an institutional responsibility to defend the constitutionality of congressional statutes, whether we agree with them or not.”

    That’s just not true. A law is not constitutional simply because Congress passed it. That’s for a court to decide.

    Obama and the DOJ could have agreed with the Court

  17. Fed Up says

    Hey Tony! Why didn’t the DoJ defend those whites and mixed couples whose voting rights were abused by Black racists in Oakland, CA last year?? Where was the DoJ then? Missing in action again!

    This DoJ and spokesholes like Tony West are not only institutionally homophobic, they’re racist too. Justice is not blind in the Obama administration, and if DADT repeal fails, Obama will go down in history as a president who supported a discriminatory policy affecting tens of thousands of Americans. No amount of spokesholes will be able to explain it away.

  18. Fenrox says

    @Jersey, God damn, Thank you for posting some real things to hold Obama accountable for, so many people just parrot what someone else said.

    And hey, you guys are way too cynical, you all know absolutely everything about the nuance of this situation. Except you guys don’t really know that much about this do you?

    Yes the president could focus on this issue, he isn’t and wont. Is he the worst most despicable person on the planet? HELL NO, if you think you can lump Obama in that group you need some serious perspective! I mean there are thousands of people in this country DEDICATED to getting rid of our rights. While that is happening we have a country on the verge of collapse. Everything ANY PRESIDENT has to work on right now has a doom-ish aspect to it.

    Off the top of my head, things I prioritize over DADT:

    Net Neutrality
    Infrastructure reform
    Healthcare Reform
    Wall street reform
    Gulf accountability
    Pies for random people

    I am pissed at him too, it’s hard not to be, he is steeped in potential. His potential to do things is all you guys focus on. Now, if someone is clearly not going to focus on your issue because WHATEVER reason and all you can do is stomp your feet and point out all these things he clearly isn’t going top do, YOU ARE POUTING, LIKE A CHILD.

    Get over it, like any of you want to be in the Army, DADT will be gone when we are in a draft situation anyway. Why not focus on a real thing like DOMA (to which your incessant pouting is much more just.)

  19. TANK says

    demanding civil equality=feet stomping? LOL! You’ve officially become a homophobe, fenrox. But, I imagine you’ll continue to prattle on with your misguided nonsense, for like the public flasher, you are incapable of self control.

  20. TANK says

    And it is irritating that faggots like fenrox and chris baron (different sides of the same coin) will be taken along for the ride when civil equality is achieved. Faggots that stood in the way of achieving it. They’re best ignored as they’ve nothing constructive to say.

  21. says

    “I mean there are thousands of people in this country DEDICATED to getting rid of our rights.”

    Most notably, BARACK OBAMA. He’s the one who appealed the DADT ruling after it was dead and gone. He’s the one that appealed the DOMA ruling that killed that bigoted policy. And he does it by comparing us to pedophiles and incest. Not only that, he regularly seeks counsel from christian extremists like Kirbyjon Caldwell, Joel Hunter, and TD Jakes—all of whom advocate torturing gays through reparative therapy and have played major roles in anti gay legislation.

    So here’s my message for you fenfux. Go fuck yourself. Who the hell do you think you are to come and lecture us? If you’re so worried about those other issues, go to a blog dedicated to them. What makes you think you can come in here, acting like a spoiled child yourself, and tell us where we should direct our anger? No one gives a shit what you think. So piss off you sanctamonious prick.

  22. justiceontherocks says

    Fenrox you are a petulant little child. I’m not sure which is worse: your nonsense opinions or the idiotic way you express them.

    This post isn’t about Obama’s priorities. It’s about using the DOJ to defend discriminatory laws, including DOMA.

    We’re not even asking him to multi-task. Just to do no harm.

  23. Fenrox says

    Nice, real nice kids. Nobody here sounds like a teenager trying desperately to hurl as many insults as you can to feel better.

    Don’t worry guys, I am sure this method you guys are supporting will work, history will see you as heroes!

    Man I wish I could italicize these posts.

    Anyway, yeah its feet stomping, yeah you guys are wrong, now I think we can add mean to the list too. DADT is bullshit, you guys really care this much? You guys really get hurt every time a gay dude is kicked out of the Army? Oh I get it, it’s bad, not arguing that it isn’t bad, but it’s not THAT bad.

    Sorry for being such a robust dude that can look at things from more than one point. Also apparently I am a homophobe, Maybe I should do a mass email to all the at risk gay youth I have been helping for 15 years.

    Perspective = homophobe. Sigh.

  24. Fenrox says


    Woah! Isn’t so cool when all the hyperbole is stripped away from these stupid comments we get great lines like:

    “We’re not even asking him to multi-task. Just to do no harm.”

    THAT is a nice simple, RATIONAL argument against his policies. The guy isn’t that great but he isn’t the monster people here want him to be, its just so much more banal than that. I wish he was a monster, monsters are obvious. The second you start calling people monsters, you start losing your argument.

  25. justiceontherocks says

    Fenrox, you really are a tired old drama queen. Every time you post on this blog you make a complete ass of yourself and today is no exception.

    It’s more than a little troubling that you’ve been “helping gay youth” for 15 years. Gay kids have enough trouble already.

  26. Fenrox says

    And hey just for giggles, So if he does get DADT repealed in his term is he still this horrible person? He is in a no-win situation with everyone, isn’t he?

  27. says

    Hey Fenrox, thanks for the troll dropping. Your IP address gave me a lot of insight into what your real motivations are. How much are your bosses paying you to spew your lies and propaganda around the gay blogs? Probably not nearly as much as they paid to have access to the President. How does it feel to be a cheap whore? slimebag.

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