The Daily Agenda for Monday, July 18

Jim Burroway

July 18th, 2011

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Justice Department To Explain Itself to Ninth Circuit Court over DADT: Pasadena, CA. Last week, the Justice Department belatedly decided that they would continue to uphold the constitutionality of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — even though the discriminatory policy is (supposedly) on its way out the door toward repeal — and asked that the court’s stay blocking a lower court finding that DADT was unconstitutional and unenforceable be put back into place by Friday. The DOJ had earlier refused to address DADT’s constitutionality, and in a confusing filing stated only that the repeal was constitutional. That led the appeals court to decide to lift the stay upholding a law that the DOJ had refused to defend. Except now, to the court’s apparent annoyance, the DOJ has done an about face and defended the constitutionality of DADT after all. So the court only partially re-imposed the stay: the military can refuse to enlist gay servicemembers, but they would remain barred from expelling them.

But in a sign of the court’s annoyance, the order demanded that the Justice Department explain its late motion for reconsideration by 5 p.m. (PDT) today “to address why (it) did not present in (its) May 20, 2011 opposition to lift the stay the detailed information now presented in the motion for reconsideration.” That means the Justice Department lawyers would have to work over the weekend to meet the tight deadline, while the Log Cabin Republicans were given until the close of business on Thursday to respond. I’m sure in law school there are a lot of courtroom tactics covered in the textbooks, but I imagine one of them involves a cardinal rule against pissing off the judge. Oral arguments are set for September 1.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Psychiatrist Denounces Anti-Gay Witchhunt:
1950.
A Senate subcommittee under Joseph McCarthy investigating the federal employment of gay Americans was warned that their investigation would have negative consequences on government functioning. “The immediate effect of the probe is to threaten the emotional security and mental health of many government employees, warned Dr. Henry P. Laughlin of the Washington Psychiatric Society. “This is indeed unfortunate, tending to lower the efficiency and work production of those who have some actual or imagined basis for concern, and especially for those people whose homosexual experiences have been isolated or of a token nature or perhaps never occurred.” Laughlin however emphasized that he was only speaking for himself and not the Society, before continuing on a line rarely heard in 1950: “Sexual orientation doesn’t enter into a person’s ability or capacity to do work. I am sure that many persons in government, as well as in industry and other areas of endeavor, have made significant contributions, although their orientation happens to be homosexual.” Laughlin’s testimony would fall on deaf years. Tens of thousands of people would be hounded out of their jobs over the next several decades, whether they were gay, suspected of being gay, or simply accused of being gay for other reasons.

President Clinton Unveils DADT Policy: 1993. “Let me say a few words now about this policy. It is not a perfect solution. It is not identical with some of my own goals. And it certainly will not please everyone, perhaps not anyone, and clearly not those who hold the most adamant opinions on either side of this issue.” With those words, President Bill Clinton unveiled a new “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in compliance with a law that had been passed by Congress earlier that year.

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