Ironic Judgment

Federal Judge Virginia A. Phillips in California has issued an injunction prohibiting the military's enforcement of its "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy because it violates gay soldiers' freedom of speech and due process rights. Of course, supporters of gay rights welcomed the decision, but it apparently won't improve their opinions of the Obama administration. That's because Justice Department lawyers were the ones arguing to keep the law in place and will likely appeal the ruling. (Dismissing the fact that, as the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal all mention, "the Justice Department is generally obligated to defend laws passed by Congress.") And if the politics of the whole issue (President Obama pledged to repeal DADT, but his failure to move quickly has led to a backlash from his liberal base) weren't confusing enough, the organization that brought the case against the government was not the ACLU—but the "Log Cabin Republicans," supporters of both gay rights and the GOP.

And in another twist of fate, Ann Althouse says that Judge Phillips was appointed by then-President Bill Clinton, who signed DADT into law in 1993. Althouse notes that the whole issue has only managed to tick off both sides—and now only weeks before the election. And AllahPundit thinks that the ruling might actually be "a blessing in disguise" for the Republicans because they won't be forced to deal with the issue in Congress.

Andrew Sullivan concurs that it will help the GOP in the short term, but thinks it will eventually come back to bite them. He also sees the irony of the Log Cabin Republicans versus the Obama administration, calling the "arc of history and morality . . . increasingly perverse and bizarre." Doug Mataconis points out that the administration has sixty days to decide whether to appeal and predicts they will likely hold off until after the election.

Naturally, social conservatives view the ruling as "judicial activism at its finest." But over at the liberal FireDogLake, one blogger warns gay-rights advocates that the decision may not be "the greatest thing since sliced bread." That's because, according "Bmaz," Judge Phillips went "well beyond her actual authority" and, by "by wildly overreaching," will force the administration to appeal the rulling on constitutional grounds, regardless of their stance on the actual issue. Post commentator Jonathan Capehart says those believing "in fairness" should be "overjoyed," but he's also angry because the repeal of DADT "ought to be done by Congress." And his opinion-page colleague E. J. Dionne gives the ruling "three cheers" and says that despite his wariness toward judicial activism, this case is different and "it makes no sense" for the administration to appeal.