Supreme Court Keeps 'Don't Ask' in Place Through Appeals Process

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

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.

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