Federal Judge Rules 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Unconstitutional

Friday, September 10, 2010

Gavel (Flickr: walknboston)

A federal judge in California overturned the 17 year old policy that affects the ability of gay men and lesbians to serve in the military late on Thursday. Judge Virginia A. Phillips ruled the policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" unconstitutional, saying the rule violates the rights of gay people and has a "direct and deleterious effect" on the military. Don't Ask, Don't Tell bars gay people in the armed services from disclosing their sexual orientations.

Judge Phillips said she would issue an injunction barring the government from enforcing the rule. Legal observers expect the decision to be stayed pending an appeal.

The Log Cabin Republicans, the group that brought the suit, argued that the policy violated gays' right to substantive due process under the Fifth Amendment, as well as their free speech rights under the First Amendment. The decision is the latest in a number of legal victories for the gay community, including, most recently, a judge in California overturning a state law preventing gays from marrying.

For legal analysis of the decision, we're joined again by George Washington University Law School professor Jeffrey Rosen. We also speak with Larry Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, former assistant Secretary of Defense during the Regan administration, and retired Navy captain. He testified against Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

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