A California federal judge on Tuesday formally rejected the Obama administration’s request for a stay on a worldwide injunction against the enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
In a notice, U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips explains that she denied a stay of the injunction because the U.S. government has provided inadequate reasons for her to take such action.
“Having considered the papers filed in support of, and in opposition to, the Application, as well as the arguments advanced by counsel at the hearing, the Court DENIES the Application for the following reasons as well as those set forth on the record at the hearing,” she writes.
Last week, Phillips issued an injunction prohibiting the U.S. government from enforcing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that confirmed her ruling striking down the statute in September. On Thursday, the Justice Department sought a stay of the injunction from Phillips while appealing her ruling to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Many legal experts had expected that Phillips would deny the stay. On Monday, she tentatively denied the stay the U.S. government as she heard arguments from attorneys.
In the notice issued Tuesday, Phillips says she denied the stay because. among othe reasons, the injunction wouldn’t impede the U.S. military’s stated goals of having to amend policies and develop education and training programs to adjust to an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley issued a memo last week outlining this concern.
“Though the Stanley Declaration identifies some general categories of regulations — housing, benefits, re-accession, military equal opportunity, anti-harassment, standards of conduct, and rights and obligations of the chaplain corps — it fails to identify the specific policies and regulations or why they must be changed in light of the Court’s injunction,” Phillips writes.
Phillips also denies that a stay on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” injunction would serve the public interest because she says evidence at trial demonstrated the law “harms military readiness and unit cohesion, and irreparably injures servicemembers by violating their fundamental rights.”
In its filing last week, the administration threatened to seek a stay on the injunction to the Ninth Circuit if Phillips didn’t rule in favor of granting the stay. The U.S. Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to the Blade’s request to comment on what action it would take following Phillips’ decision.
During a news conference on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs emphasized the president’s commitment to repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” through legislative means while saying the Justice Department is monitoring what’s happening in the courts.
“The president believes that the policy will end under his watch precisely because in the defense authorization bill pending in the Senate is a provision that would repeal what the president believes is unjust, what the president believes is discriminatory,” Gibbs said. “It’s passed the House. The president will push for defense authorization to be passed containing that provision when the Senate comes back for the lame duck.”
R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, which filed the lawsuit in 2004, said Phillips is “right to stand with servicemembers by rejecting President Obama’s request to continue this discriminatory policy.”
“It is vital that as a nation we uphold the fundamental constitutional rights of all soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen,” Cooper said. “With recruiters accepting gay and lesbian applicants and a week having passed without incident, it is clear that our military is well-equipped to adapt to open service, and eager to get on with the work of defending our freedom.”
Cooper chided Obama for previously saying at a town hall that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would end on his watch while defending the statute in court.
“As Commander in Chief, the president should drop his defense of a policy which he knows undermines military readiness and threatens national security,” Cooper said.
UPDATE: On Wednesday, the Justice Department filed another request for an emergency stay with the Ninth Circuit.
“We respectfully request that the Court enter an administrative stay by today October 20, 2010, pending this Court’s resolution of the government’s motion for a stay pending appeal, which would maintain the status quo that prevailed before the district court’s decision while the Court considers the government’s stay motion,” the Justice Department notice states.