Department of Justice

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20, 2010 -- The Justice Department today filed an emergency appeal on behalf of the Defense Department to halt a federal judge's injunction against the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law.

The emergency motion filed in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asks the court to stop, or "stay," immediately U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips' Oct. 12 indefinite injunction against the law that bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

The injunction, which took effect immediately upon Phillips' ruling, precludes congressional action on the law and "risks causing significant immediate harm to the military and its efforts to be prepared to implement an orderly repeal of the statute," the motion says.

The motion notes that President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, support repeal of the law. However, it needs more deliberation, planning, and training, they say. Gates set up a working group earlier this year chaired by Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Army Europe, and DOD General Counsel Jeh C. Johnson to determine what changes the department would need to make if the law is repealed. The review panel is to report its findings Dec. 1.

Defense Department officials issued a statement today that says the department "will continue to obey the law, and we will abide by the terms of the court's injunction unless and until the injunction is stayed or vacated."

Phillips yesterday denied the request for a stay of the injunction, writing that the government's concern for the disruption caused by invalidating the law is superseded by her ruling that the law is unconstitutional. Phillips' ruling also says the injunction would not impede the department's goals of amending policies and regulations and developing education and training programs.

Page last updated Thu October 21st, 2010 at 08:11