Sometimes, the courts come along and do politicians a tremendous favor — passing a ruling that ends an increasingly divisive practice without forcing timid elected officials to alienate some constituents. That may be the case with the odious policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Today, a federal judge issued a worldwide injunction ordering the military to end enforcement of the policy. From The Associated Press:
A federal judge issued a worldwide injunction Tuesday stopping enforcement of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, ending the military’s 17-year-old ban on openly gay troops.
U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips’ landmark ruling was widely cheered by gay rights organizations that credited her with getting accomplished what President Obama and Washington politics could not.
“This order from Judge Phillips is another historic and courageous step in the right direction, a step that Congress has been noticeably slow in taking,” said Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United and the sole named veteran plaintiff in the case along with the Log Cabin Republicans.
Servicemembers United is the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans.
U.S. Department of Justice attorneys have 60 days to appeal. Legal experts say the department is under no legal obligation to do so and could let Phillips’ ruling stand.
The Obama administration does not support “don’t ask,” but it is in the inenviable position of being expected to fight for all laws that Congress has passed. In this case, the wiser course is to allow the ruling to stand. “Don’t ask” is on a collision course with a changing America and with common sense. (The lawsuit challenging the policy, by the way, was brought by Log Cabin Republicans in 2004.)
The House has already voted to end the policy, but Senate Republicans refused to kill it. With more Republicans likely to win seats in the Senate, a dumb policy could live on for another few years.
The Attorney General should decline to appeal the ruling.