Refusal by Judge to Postpone “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” an Easy Case to Make, Says Professor Franke


Public Affairs, 212-854-2650
New York, Oct. 20, 2010—The “clear and emphatic” refusal by U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips to stay her ruling that the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was unconstitutional was easy to make given the government’s weak case, said Professor Katherine Franke, Director of Columbia Law School’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law
Phillips on Oct. 12th ordered the military to stop enforcing the law against current and future gay and lesbian members of the armed services. The U.S. Department of Justice then asked the judge to maintain the status quo while the case is appealed. Phillips denied that request Tuesday.
“In a clear and emphatic order, Judge Phillips found the Justice Department had not come forward with any evidence that staying her ruling on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ would create a likelihood of irreparable harm to military readiness,” Franke said.
Franke said it was also telling that Phillips reiterated her earlier finding that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy itself undermined military readiness and unit cohesion by undermining military recruiting “when our country is at war and requiring the discharge of service members with critical skills and training.”
“Judge Phillips’ refusal to stay the suspension of don’t ask, don’t tell was in so many respects an easy case,” Franke said. “The Justice Department offered no new or compelling reasons for delaying the suspension of the policy other than that they’d like more time to think about it.”
In denying the government’s application for a stay, Franke said, Phillips found that the public has an interest in military readiness, unit cohesion, and the preservation of fundamental constitutional rights.
“All three of these important values require the immediate open and non-discriminatory integration of lesbian and gay people into the U.S. military,” Franke added.
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