DADT Back in Obama’s Court


Now that the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has stalled in the Senate, the Obama administration is back in the the awkward position of deciding whether to defend a a policy in court they’ve already said they don’t agree with.

A US District Court in California determined earlier this month that the controversial, 17-year-old ban on gays serving openly in the military is unconstitutional. Last week, the plaintiffs in the case sought an injunction to bar the military from enforcing the policy. If the Obama administration decides to appeal and ask the court to deny the injunction, it needs to do so by the end of the day today.

Or the Department of Justice could just let it go, which would effectively end enforcement of DADT—a policy that Obama has said he wants thrown out, even as the Department of Justice has defended it in court. The administration has said it believes that Congress should determine military policy, not the courts. But with movement on the issue blocked in the Senate, the administration will have to decide today how it wants to proceed.

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) urged Attorney General Eric Holder to allow the court’s decision to stand in a letter last week: “As one of many criteria that the Justice Department will examine in deciding whether to appeal a potential permanent injunction to this policy, we ask that you examine whether or not an appeal furthers a legitimate governmental interest. We would say any appeal does not.”

President Obama was heckled at a Democratic fundraiser last night over the issue, and groups like the Human Rights Campaign have also urged Holder not to appeal the decision.

“If Attorney General Eric Holder takes leadership, he can help the Obama Administration make history, joining a federal court in the judgment that discrimination—especially against those willing to take a bullet for their country—is un-American,” said Rick Jacobs, chair of the Courage Campaign, in an email to supporters Thursday morning asking them to contact the DOJ on the issue.

How will the Obama administration proceed? Guess we’ll find out shortly.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.