July 12, 2011 | by Chris Johnson
Carney defers to Justice Dept. on ‘Don’t Ask’ litigation

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney deferred to the Justice and Defense departments on Tuesday in response to inquiries about a court order barring the U.S. government from enforcing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Under questioning from the Washington Blade, Carney deferred to the Justice Department when asked whether the president supports an order last week from a three-judge panel on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstituting an injunction against the military’s gay ban.

“The Justice Department is reviewing the order, and I think I would point you to them for further information,” Carney said. “The president’s position, obviously, on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is quite clear and we fought hard to make it happen. And it was a significant accomplishment late last year.”

But pressed on whether Obama was himself supportive of the order, Carney again deferred to the Justice Department.

The Obama administration has the option to appeal the panel’s injunction barring enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to the full Ninth Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court. The Pentagon has instituted a moratorium to comply with the injunction, but has said it’s reviewing the decision with the Justice Department to determine whether it will appeal.

Asked about the possibility of challenging the order, Carney again deferred to the Justice Department, saying, “I think that’s the same answer.”

The injunction was put in place after legislation was signed in December allowing for repeal after 60 days pass following certification from the president, the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Troops have undertaken training to prepare for open service, but certification hasn’t taken place.

At a recent Pride reception at the White House, Obama said certification will happen in a matters of “weeks, not months.”

Carney deferred to the Pentagon when asked if the court order would impact the timing for the certification of repeal, although he added he expects certification in the “near future” and doesn’t expect the injunction to change that process.

“I think as the process moves forward I’ll refer you to the Defense Department,” Carney said. “I know Secretary Gates said shortly before he left that it was moving along very well and he would expect it to happen in the near future, but I don’t think there’s any impact.”

Carney also deferred to the Pentagon when asked if a more definite timeline has been set for certification, although he said he doesn’t think a date has been set.

“I would refer you to the Defense Department, but I don’t believe so,” Carney said.

Also, Carney declined to answer a question from ABC News Radio on whether the White House takes issue with federal money going to a counseling clinic that engages in ‘ex-gay’ therapy.

“I confess I do not have an answer to that question,” Carney said.

This week, Truth Wins Out revealed that Marcus Bachmann, the spouse of Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, operates a clinic that engages in reparative therapy. The clinic reportedly has received federal dollars.

A partial transcript of the remarks between Carney and reporters on LGBT issues follows:

ABC News Radio: Does the White House have any problem with federal dollars being sent to a counseling clinic that engages in the controversial therapy of trying to cure people of being gay?

Jay Carney: Ann, I confess I do not have an answer to that question.

Washington Blade: Some questions on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Last week, the Ninth Circuit issued an order barring the government from enforcing this law. I’m sure the president heard the news last week. Was he supportive of the decision?

Carney: Is he aware of it?

Blade: I’m sure he heard the news last week. Is he supportive of it?

Carney: The Justice Department is reviewing the order, and I think I would point you to them for further information. The president’s position, obviously, on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is quite clear and we fought hard to make it happen. And it was a significant accomplishment late last year.

Blade: But as the head of the administration, was the president supportive of this court order ending that enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”?

Carney: Um, again I’m going to refer you to the Justice Department.

Blade: Do you anticipate that the administration will challenge or appeal this decision?

Carney: I think that’s the same answer.

Blade: What impact is this going to have on repeal certification? The president said before it’s going to happen in a matter of weeks, not months? Is it going to have any impact on that?

Carney: I think as the process moves forward I’ll refer you to the Defense Department. I know Secretary Gates said shortly before he left that it was moving along very well and he would expect it to happen in the near future, but I don’t think there’s any impact.

Blade: Is the definite date or time set for when that’s going to happen?

Carney: I would refer you to the Defense Department, but I don’t believe so.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

1 Comment
  • Kathleen Perrin

    A correction: “The injunction was put in place after legislation was signed in December”
    The injunction was put in place by District Court Judge Phillips on October 12, 2010, as part of her judgment in the case LCR v. USA. Judge Philips denied the USA’s request to stay the judgment pending appeal, but on November 1 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay. It was this Nov 1 stay that the 9th Circuit just lifted, thus reinstating Judge Phillips’s injunction against enforcement of DADT.

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