Legal Case Looms for Justice Department

Maj. Margaret Witt is challenging the Air Force's attempt to discharge her under DADT, likely forcing the Obama administration to take its first official action on the ban against gays and lesbians serving openly.

BY Kerry Eleveld

March 13 2009 12:00 AM ET

"If I were them, I
would say, 'We're going to let Major Witt go forward with this
and we can deal with the result later," says Wilson, adding
that part of their equation will surely be a matter of
resources. With wars on two fronts, Ponzi schemers to be
prosecuted, and drug cartels to battle, Wilson offers, "If I
were the attorney general, I might have bigger fish to fry. How
much energy does the Department of Justice want to spend on a
case that by its very decision is limited to this one
individual."

Osburn hopes the DOJ
takes a pass on this case, in part, because the Obama
administration has already said it favors a review of the
policy, which he says, "should happen at the Pentagon." A
bill to repeal the ban was introduced by Rep. Ellen Tauscher in
the House last week, but Osburn notes that a push from the
Pentagon would likely speed the legislative process. A Senate
sponsor for the legislation has yet to emerge.

But both Osburn and
Wilson doubt congressional action will take place soon enough
to render the Witt case moot for the Justice Department. In
fact, the government already asked for an extension on March 5,
and Osburn said it may ask for yet another once April 3 rolls
around. "They're still getting people in place at the
department," he says.

Major Witt is in
Washington, D.C., this weekend to receive a Courage Award at
SLDN's national dinner, but executive director Aubrey Sarvis
was not available to comment for this article. Asked if the
organization was consulting with the White House on Witt's case
and what action they hoped would be taken, a spokesperson said,
"SLDN doesn't see the delay as a significant development
in the case. We continue to be supportive of Major Witt's
fight, which is why we're honoring her at this
weekend's gala."

Tags: Politics

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