At the prompting of the Obama administration, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed itself on a temporary injunction that required the US military to stop enforcing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The court credited the administration for presenting new data that reinstated the old policy — which might make this court victory somewhat more Pyrrhic politically:
A federal appeals court late Friday ordered the military to temporarily continue its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for openly gay service members, responding to a request from the Obama administration.
One correction to the AP’s report: the DADT policy doesn’t address openly gay members. Openly gay members get discharged, as part of the historical policy regarding homosexuality. Strictly speaking, DADT is a policy aimed at keeping those gays and lesbians who are more discreet within the service; as long as they’re not telling, the military isn’t supposed to be asking.
In its three-page decision, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the ruling was based on new information provided by the federal government, including a declaration from Major General Steven A. Hummer, who is leading the effort to repeal the policy.
The court said it was upholding an earlier ruling to keep the policy in place “in order to provide this court with an opportunity to consider fully the issues presented in the light of these previously undisclosed facts.”
Note, though, that even the temporary re-implementation of DADT is limited by the court:
Despite the delay in dismantling the controversial policy, the ruling bars the federal government from investigating, penalizing or discharging anyone pursuant to “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
This makes the situation clear … as mud. So the policy is in place, but the military isn’t supposed to use it? Must be like those two ships Jazz wrote about earlier this morning.
Obama’s allies on the Left were outraged when his administration appealed the court’s initial injunction against DADT. The courtroom victory probably won’t have them cheering Obama, either. Obama’s political team would undoubtedly have preferred to have the court decline to revisit its earlier ruling in order to escape the need to be the President who reinstated DADT, even for a short period of time. This ruling gives Obama the worst of both worlds; he has to take a political hit for defending DADT in the short run, while this ruling ends up giving the military no authority to exercise the policy anyway.