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Thursday, May 30, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Merits Repeal, Not Appeal, U.S. Says

(CN) - The federal government once again asked the 9th Circuit to suspend an appeal over the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gay and lesbian service members, arguing that the issue will soon become moot in light of Congress' recent vote to repeal the policy.

The government filed a 59-page opening brief on Friday, following a schedule set by the San Francisco-based federal appeals court. In late January, the 9th Circuit refused to stop an appeal brought by the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay and lesbian advocacy group that challenged the law in 2004 in a California federal court.

President Barack Obama signed new legislation on Dec. 22 to repeal the policy, and that process is already "well under way" and will be complete in a matter of months, according to the brief.

"This case will become moot upon the effective date of the repeal of [the policy], rendering any judicial disposition unnecessary," the brief states. "That date is swiftly approaching. As a result, the court should withhold further proceedings and decision in this matter, both out of the respect owed to the orderly repeal process undertaken by the political branches and in furtherance of the policy favoring avoidance of deciding constitutional questions unnecessarily."

A federal judge in Riverside, Calif., entered a permanent worldwide injunction against the law, which bans gays and lesbians from serving in the U.S. military. At each stage of the process, the government has lobbied to halt court proceedings, arguing that repeal of the law should occur in Congress.

If the 9th Circuit decides to go ahead with the appeal, however, the government argues that the injunction should be reversed because the plaintiffs lack standing and the district court exceeded its authority by "entering an injunction in this case precluding the government from enforcing [the policy] against any individual anywhere in the world," according to the brief.

The Log Cabin Republicans have until March 28 to submit an answering brief.

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