This morning, Lt. Dan Choi denounced White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett for suggesting that those who urge the administration not to appeal a recent federal court decision overturning Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell don’t “actually understand” President Obama’s duty to defend existing laws. “I’m so absolutely upset at the things she could be saying at this moment,” he began. “Valerie Jarrett said that gay people, some of us should try to understand the politics and the situation and that we are a nation of laws. Well we understand that, we don’t need a lecture from Valerie Jarrett on that.”
This afternoon, Jarrett appeared on CNN’s The Situation Room and doubled down on her argument that the Justice Department must appeal the ruling, insisted that Obama can’t change the policy through executive order and falsely suggested that Obama has already admitted that the policy is unconstitutional:
JARRETT: [Obama] can’t simply sign an executive order to revoke it or he would have. So we’re asking Congress to repeal it. And until then, the Justice Department has no choice but to defend the laws that are on the books and that’s what the Justice Department is doing. But we want it to end and end as soon as possible.
BLITZER: One legal scholar suggested today that perhaps the president could go ahead do what he needs to do, but at the same time make it clear to everyone that he thinks this law is unconstitutional.
JARRETT: He has done that. He did that as recently as last week at a town hall meeting. He said that he thinks this law should be absolutely repealed. He does not believe in this law. [...]
BLITZER: Will you push for repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell during the lame duck session?
JARRETT: I know the president has said he wants it repealed as quickly as possible….we share the frustration of people who think it should be done right away. We wish it had been done sooner. But we are determined to get it done.
BLITZER: If Dan Choi were here what would you say to him?
JARRETT: I appreciate his frustration. I share his frustration and I understand that for somebody who has served proudly in the military that he thinks this is an outrage. We think this is an outrage, too. And we think that focus should be directed at Congress. Because Congress is the one that passed it in the first place. Congress is the one who should repeal it.
LGBT advocates have argued that Obama could also use his stop-loss authority to prevent the military from discharging individuals based on their sexual orientation and have claimed that the White House does not have to appeal the ruling if he believes that it is unconstitutional.
This morning, Ted Olson — former Solicitor General under President George W. Bush — agreed with this emerging consensus, saying “It would be appropriate for them to say ‘the law has been deemed unconstitutional, we are not going to seek further review of that.’”
Significantly, Jarrett also refused to say that Obama would lobby for repeal during the lame duck session and incorrectly suggested that he had said that the law is unconstitutional during the MTV town hall. At that event, Obama dodged the question and instead reiterated his promise that “This policy will end and it will end on my watch.”