While the Obama Administration has announced an appeal in Massachusetts to reverse the victory with regard to same sex marriage, U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips in Riverside, California has upped the ante by imposing a nationwide injunction on the policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell– a move also opposed by the Obama Administration. The Administration is now likely to move to reverse this victory in California — further angering those “lethargic” liberals that the Administration has been pushing to work for the Democrats.
Phillips’ injunction for the first time would halt the obnoxious policy created by President Bill Clinton. The Obama Administration previously asked the judge not to enjoin the policy, which is viewed by civil libertarians as unconstitutional and unAmerican.
This case was brought by the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group.
The injunction extends beyond the immediate parties in the case and could be challenged as excessive (as argued by the Obama Administration before the trial court). However, it is not unprecedented. Indeed, if the policy is unconstitutional, the court has good reason to enjoin it. Otherwise, it would require dozens of insular rulings to practically shut it down across the country. Generally, when a law is unconstitutional, it is struck down. In this case, the court did not want the military to continue to implement the policy on its own authority.
If true to its earlier filings in the case, the Obama Administration is likely to appeal the injunction and seek an appellate ruling to set it aside. That will only alienate civil libertarians and gay rights advocates further before the election. President Obama has proven to be a perfect nightmare on civil liberties. While often using rhetoric to denounce things like torture and DADT, President Obama has adopted many of the same policies as the Bush Administration and worked in court to extinguish dozens of civil liberties cases.
Indeed, while many have expressed surprise that Bush is re-gaining popularity in the polls, it should be little surprise since many of Obama’s policies have vindicated Bush. From privacy cases to off-shore drilling to assassination lists, Obama has affirmed the positions of Bush over objections from civil libertarians, liberals, and other groups.
Now, weeks before the November elections, the Administration is opposing a core constituency in seeking to preserve a policy of discrimination against gay and lesbian citizens. The Administration previously (and successfully) sought to extinguish dozens of privacy lawsuits as well as actions seeking review of torture and assassination policies. Now, on both coasts, it is seeking to limit or reverse victories in favor of same-sex couples and gay military personnel. That is likely to convert that “lethargy” to anger for many liberals who have complained of the betrayal of core values by President Obama.