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9th Cir. Stays End of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on October 21, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It was off, now it is back on. This kind of situation is perhaps the exact one the Obama Administration was hoping to avoid by addressing the don’t ask don’t tell policy through a congressional repeal, rather than through the court system. Just a few days ago, the Pentagon had suspended implementation of don’t ask don’t tell after California Federal Judge Virginia Phillips had issued and injunction against its enforcement. As of October 20, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the injunction and the situation.

After Judge Phillips issued her opinion in the case of Log Cabin Republicans v. U.S. finding don’t ask don’t tell to be unconstitutional, she also handed down an injunction prohibiting the military from enforcing the law. According to CNN, the government filed an application for an emergency stay to the appellate court on October 20. A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit has issued a stay, keeping the status quo in place until the court can hear the case.

In their motion to the 9th Circuit, the government stated they did want to do away with the law, but not within the framework of the court process. CNN report that the government argued the action of Judge Phillips abruptly terminating the law "risks causing significant immediate harm to the military and its efforts to be prepared to implement an orderly repeal of the statute."

The one page order from the appeals court says the stay will remain in effect until the full court has had the opportunity to consider the issues presented in the case.

Although the result of the rapid fire court decisions overturning and staying the law, then reinforcing the law is confusing, the overall message is that the don't ask don't tell policy is headed for defeat. CNN reports that in speaking to a mostly young audience at the MTV, BET, CMT town hall meeting last week, President Obama reaffirmed that the "policy will end, and it will end on my watch."

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