This morning, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett responded to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to temporary stay a lower judge’s injunction of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, insisting that the administration had a duty to defend the policy. “Until Congress repeals it, the Justice Department is doing what it is required to do and that is, to defend the laws of the land,” Jarrett said. “But I want to be very clear that the president thinks it is time for the policy to end, and that’s what he intends to ask Congress to do”:
JARRETT: You know what, the Justice Department is required to defend the law of the land. Believe me, we wish there were another way because the President has been so clear. And I think there are many members of the gay community who actually understand this and who are working with us to try to put pressure on Congress to repeal it. It’s clear that the vast majority of American people think that it should not be the law. And we are determined to have Congress revoke it. But we have to go through that orderly process.
It’s not just those in the gay community that don’t “actually understand” the White House’s insistence on mischaracterizing its duty to defend existing laws. As Ted Olson — former Solicitor General under President George W. Bush — explains, “it happens every once in awhile at the federal level when the solicitor general, on behalf of the U.S., will confess error or decline to defend a law.” “I don’t know what is going through the [Obama] administration’s thought process on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,'” Olson said. “It would be appropriate for them to say ‘the law has been deemed unconstitutional, we are not going to seek further review of that.'”
But the White House has refused to say if President Obama still believes that the law is constitutional — as he told Anderson Cooper earlier this year — and has shied away from issuing an executive order placing a moratorium on future discharges. Meanwhile, a new CBS News poll finds that 56 percent of Americans favor allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly, while 31 percent oppose letting them do so.