SLDN Statement on the Supreme Court’s Denial of Cert
Washington D.C. - The urgency for Congress and the President to act on repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was underscored even more today when the Supreme Court refused to accept a petition from one of the plaintiffs in the Cook v. Gates case challenging the constitutionality of the DADT law. That case was originally brought by lawyers with Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and pro bono attorneys at the law firm of WilmerHale on behalf of 12 brave service members all of whom were discharged under this insidious DADT law, and all of whom proudly stated they would be willing to be reinstated and serve again if the law were invalidated. The Cook plaintiffs lost in the trail court and in the First Circuit and today's action effectively means that these 12 plaintiffs have exhausted all of their legal remedies.
The Court's decision now places greater pressure on the executive and legislative branches to get repeal of this discriminatory law done. Right now, the best place to make our core argument-that openly gay and lesbian service members do NOT negatively impact unit cohesion, morale, or good order-is in the political arena, i.e., in Congress and the White House. Since Cook v. Gates was filed in 2004, a bill has been introduced in Congress (HR 1283) repealing DADT and replacing it with a policy on nondiscrimination. Congress appears receptive to allowing those harmed by DADT to tell their stories and air the facts, and to make the case to the American people about why this law needs to be repealed.
In addition, public opinion polls are sky high in favor of repeal, including conservatives, churchgoers, and Republicans, according to the latest Gallup poll out last week.
Even if the Supreme Court had taken the Pietrangelo case, the Court would not have decided the constitutionality of DADT. If the Court had both granted cert and ruled favorably for Mr. Pietrangelo, the case simply would have sent the case back to the district court for a trial on the merits.