U.S. Supreme Court rules to keep ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ ban in effect during appeal

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday issued an order, keeping the ban on openly gay service members in effect while a federal appeals court reviews the issue.

The high court denied a request from the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group and plaintiffs in the case to overturn the ban, to block enforcement of the 17-year old “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Via the SCOTUS Blog:

The Supreme Court, without noting any dissent, agreed on Friday to leave the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in full effect while its constitutionality is under review in a lower court. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy referred the issue to the full Court. Justice Elena Kagan took no part in the order.

As a result of the order, the policy will remain in effect at least through mid-March, unless Congress in the meantime voted to repeal it legislatively — an unlikely prospect, according to most observers. The Ninth Circuit Court is reviewing a federal judge’s decision to strike down the policy and to impose a worldwide ban on its enforcement. The Circuit Court’s briefing schedule, however, will not be completed until late February or early March, and a hearing and decision would come after that.

On Sept. 9, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips, ruled the policy “unconstitutional,” and on Oct. 12 issued a worldwide injunction barring the Pentagon from enforcing the ban.

But on Oct. 20, a three-judge panel U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted the Justice Department’s emergency request to allow the policy to remain intact while the appeals court considers the issues presented.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is due to release a survey showing the majority of U.S. troops think allowing gays to serve openly in the military would have a minimal effect on wartime efforts or unit cohesion.

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