This Is Different, You See.
So the Obama administration is hinting it may appeal the courts’ decision to overturn Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Writes Thoreau, about the appeal of the DOMA decision — another one Obama claims he’s against:
Somebody needs to tell Obama that while the executive branch might have a duty to try to make a reasonable effort to defend existing laws and policies from court challenges, if the courts rule against the administration, the administration is not under any obligation to lock horns with the 3rd branch all the way to the Supreme Court. Especially if the administration actually claims to oppose the law or policy in question. It’s one thing to make a good faith argument at the first stage of the battle, and another thing to continue fighting after the third branch rules the other way. When administrations disagree with Congress, they still pick and choose battles. When they disagree with the third branch, they can also pick and choose battles. And if they actually claim to agree with the decision of the third branch as a matter of policy, they should really take “yes” for an answer.
He’s absolutely right. But at this point the administration’s “claims to agree” look thinner and thinner.
Here’s what the administration seems to be moving toward: We agree that gays should be allowed to serve in the military openly. Just not by presidential order. And not by a court ruling either. It’s only right if Congress does it. Because, you know, this issue is totally unlike when Harry Truman — acting as Commander in Chief — integrated the armed forces racially. It’s also totally unlike when Barack Obama — yes, I Barack Obama, acting as Commander in Chief, through my Defense Secretary Robert Gates — approved of women serving on submarines. This is different.
It’s also unlike United States vs. Virginia, in which courts set antidiscrimination policy in a military environment. And finally, it’s unlike Witt v. Department of the Air Force, a case on the very same subject, which we decided not to appeal. This case? We need to appeal.
Honestly, I can’t think of a consistent justification here. Except that we’ll always say nice things to gay people, and then fight like hell whenever things go their way.