Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Washington Post Columnist "Angry" With Injunction Banning DADT

Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart is "angry" with federal judge Victoria Phillips's order that enjoins the military from enforcing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Although Capehart agrees with the "fairness" of the ruling, he believes that Congress should repeal the statute:
[T]his ruling makes me angry. Not because I disagree with the action taken, per se. But because the repeal of "don't ask don't tell" ought to be done by Congress. Unfortunately, Congress has failed to act.
It is not entirely clear whether Capehart is simply angry that Congress "failed to act" or whether he believes that the court should have waited for Congress to act. If Capehart is angry with Congress alone, then I agree with his position.

If Capehart, however, believes that the court should have waited for Congress to act, then I must dissent from this position. People have made similar arguments in other contexts. For example, conservatives, including members of the Supreme Court, have argued that the Supreme Court should have declined to find a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy in Roe v. Wade. At the time, conservatives argued that the democratic process -- not courts -- should resolve the matter. Similarly, conservatives have criticized court rulings that invalidate laws banning same-sex marriage, and they have expressed a preference for legislative action instead.

Judge Phillips, however, did not "repeal" DADT. Instead, she enforced the Constitution. Generally, judges should not wait for lawmakers to act before they remedy violations of the law. This argument is even more compelling when the same legislature (Congress) enacted the unconstitutional law in the first place. I commend the judge's ruling -- even though I think parts of it are subject to criticism, if not reversal. Congress has delayed justice in this area far too long.

No comments:

Real Time Analytics