Senators Urge Holder Not to Appeal ‘Don’t Ask’ Ruling

Posted October 12, 2010 at 6:41pm

Updated: 8:04 p.m.

Democratic Senators are urging the Obama administration not to appeal a Tuesday federal court ruling halting the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that bars openly gay service members.

Sens. Mark Udall (Colo.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) authored a letter signed by 21 Senators pressing Attorney General Eric Holder to let the injunction on the policy stand. U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips ruled that military officials must “immediately … suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding.”

In their letter, the Senators argue that not appealing the decision would allow Congress to act to repeal the law.

“In light of important national security concerns, we respectfully request that you, in your capacity at the Department of Justice, refrain from appealing this decision or the permanent injunction granted against this law,” the Senators wrote.

“President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, have all publicly advocated for the repeal of this harmful law,” they added. “There is no legal or military justification and not one shred of credible evidence that supports continuing the discriminatory DADT law, and considering the guidance of the commander-in-chief and the nation’s top two defense officials, we urge you to refrain from seeking an appeal.”

Signatories on the letter include Democratic Sens. John Kerry (Mass.), Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Roland Burris (Ill.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Al Franken (Minn.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Russ Feingold (Wis.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Barbara Mikulski (Md.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Ben Cardin (Md.). Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also signed on.

Not all lawmakers agree with the judge’s ruling.

“Today’s ruling by Judge Phillips is just the latest in a line of decisions in which judges have implemented their own policy preferences at the expense of the Constitution, American citizens and the rule of law,” Rep. Steve King said.

The Iowa Republican said Phillips is a “rogue judge” and called on Americans to press for the “removal of lawless judges from the state and federal bench.”