Justice Dept Asks for Stay of Injunction on DADT, Declares Intent to Appeal
October 14th, 2010
The Justice Department today filed an application (PDF: 16 KB/3 pages) before U.S. Federal District Judge Virginia A. Phillips, asking that the injunction ordering the immediate suspension of the enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” be lifted. The primary objections to the injunction was outlined in a declaration (PDF: 1.4MB/48 pages) by Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford L. Stanley. The Under Secretary is responsible for personnel policy decisions in the Defense department, and he is a member of the Defense Department’s working group assessing the impact of DADT’s repeal and developing the plan for implementing the repeal.
Stanley asks the Judge to set aside the injunction because, since the administration intends to appeal the decision, “the military should not be required to suddenly and immediately restructure a major personnel policy that has been in place for years, particularly during a time when the Nation is involved in combat operations overseas.” Stanley says that the working group has determined that the magnitude of the impact of repealing DADT is too great to be undertaken on short notice. Instead, he says that an immediate injunction stands in the way of President Barack Obama’s call for the repeal to be implemented in “an orderly way.”
Stanley describes the tasks that the working group has identified in order to end the enforcement of DADT. They essentially break down into two areas:
- Implement changes to written policies and DoD regulations “to address the issues associated with repeal and to mitigate any potentially negative impacts repeal may have.”
- Develop tools and training for the leadership and servicemembers. Stanley complains, “It will be difficult, if not impossible, to provide timely education to forces engaged in combat operations.”
It’s that second point that forms the main part of Stanley’ argument. He warns such training for all levels of service is essential to avoid a chaotic transition:
It is important to keep in mind that thousands of military personnel have enforced the DADT policy for many years. Any change to the policy will require that these personnel receive training and instruction in a number of areas, including: (i) how the policy has changed; (ii) why the policy has changed; (iii) how the change in this policy affects other existing policies; (iv) appropriate treatment of gay and lesbian servicemembers who reveal their sexual orientation; (v) appropriate treatment of servicemembers who object to serving with servicemembers they know to be gay or lesbian; and (vi) principles to consider when handling other issues that may arise the elimination of the DADT policy. Thus, it is not simply a matter of saying that a particular statute shall no longer be enforced.
Stanley also states that the injunction places LGBT servicemembers and the DoD under great uncertainty on how to act during the repeal process:
The military also should not be required to restructure military policy and law during the pendency of the Government’s appeal. If the Court’s judgment is overturned on appeal, and Congress has not since repealed the statute, the Department of Defense will be obligated by statute to reinstate DADT. Removing and then reinstating DADT will be extremely disruptive, as well as unduly costly and time-consuming, particularly at a time when this Nation is involved in combat operations overseas.
Enjoining the operation of the statute before any appeal is concluded, moreover, would place gay and lesbian servicemembers in a position of grave uncertainty. If the Court’s decision were later reversed, the military would be faced with the question of whether to discharge any servicemembers who have revealed their sexual orientation in reliance on this Court’s decision and injunction.
Stanley warns that “an abrupt change – without adequate planning or time to implement a plan – substantially increases the probability of failure or backlash in the early months of this transition, months that will be critical to our long-term success.” Later, he reiterates:
If the DADT policy is eventually abolished, the military will only get one chance to implement the change. For a change of this magnitude, the initial stages are extraordinarily important to the long-term success of the project. That is one reason why the President, Secretary of Defense, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have emphasized the need for careful planning of this transition. A poorly implemented transition will not only cause short-term disruption to military operations, but will also jeopardize the long-term success of the transition. Either outcome would irreparably harm our military and the national security of the United States.
Log Cabin Republicans, who brought the successful suit against the government in Federal Court, pledged to fight the Administration’s application:
We are not surprised by the government’s action, as it repeats the broken promises and empty words from President Obama avowing to end ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ while at the same directing his Justice Department to defend this unconstitutional policy,” said Dan Woods, White & Case partner who is representing Log Cabin Republicans. “Now that the government has filed a request for a stay, we will oppose it vigorously because brave, patriotic gays and lesbians are serving in our armed forces to fight for all of our constitutional rights while the government is denying them theirs.”
Christian Berle, Deputy Executive Director of Log Cabin Republicans, also urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring DADT’s repeal back up for a vote during the lame duck session following the November election.