- The Log Cabin Republicans had challenged enforcement of the law
- With the ending of the policy, the lawsuit is deemed moot
- One judge warns "other such challenges will come to the courts"
A federal appeals court has dismissed a pending legal challenge by a gay rights group to the military's now-dismantled "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuals serving in the military.
The three-judge panel said the case was essentially moot since the military's enforcement of the policy ceased nine days ago, after a Pentagon-led transition period that followed repeal of the 1993 law by Congress last year.
"The repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell provides Log Cabin (Republicans) with all it sought and may have had standing to obtain," wrote the judges in a 21-page ruling.
By so ruling, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals avoided deciding the larger question of whether the policy violated the constitutional due process rights of gays and lesbians who are serving or who wanted to serve the armed forces.
"Although Congress spared us the need to reach the merits in this case, other such challenges will come to the courts," warned Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain, named to the court by President Ronald Reagan.
The Log Cabin Republicans' lawsuit became part of the back-and-forth legal and political dealings that took place in the months leading up to the demise of the policy. Federal courts -- including the Supreme Court -- dealt with the question of whether the law should continue to be enforced during the transition, ignoring the larger questions of its constitutionality. All that is now legally irrelevant since DADT no longer exists.
The case is Log Cabin Republicans v. U.S. (10-56634).