9th Circuit Brings End to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Case

     (CN)- The 9th Circuit ended the Log Cabin Republicans’ constitutional challenges to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on Thursday, vacating the 7-year-old lawsuit as moot and finding that a recent repeal of the military policy barring gay and lesbian soldiers from serving openly gave the group everything it had sought from the courts.
     Log Cabin Republicans filed the lawsuit in 2004 in California, asking a federal judge to declare Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell unconstitutional. The group argued that the policy, enacted in 1993, violated the First and Fifth Amendments, and sought an injunction to stop the government from applying it.
     The District Court in Los Angeles ruled for the group in 2010 and permanently enjoined Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the case made its way to the 9th Circuit on appeal. Meanwhile, the Obama Administration and Congress began a process to repeal the policy, even as the U.S.
     Justice Department continued to defend it in court.
     The military made the repeal official on Sept. 20, and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is now a relic of the 20th century.
     “The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell provides Log Cabin with all it sought and may have had standing to obtain,” a three-judge panel of 9th Circuit judges ruled in a 21-page unsigned opinion.
     Though the Log Cabin Republicans had argued against mootness, hoping to have the policy declared unconstitutional on its face, the 9th Circuit could find no compelling reason to keep the case alive.
     “We cannot say with ‘virtual[ ] certain[ty]’ that the Congress that passed the Repeal Act – or a future Congress whose composition, agenda, and circumstances we cannot know – will reenact Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the panel stated. “We can only speculate, and our speculation cannot breathe life into this case.”

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