TPM: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday ordered the federal government to stop enforcing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” …. citing the government’s recent opposition to policies that discriminate based on sexuality.
…..In the decision, the panel also cited the Department of Justice’s decision in February to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act because it is unconstitutional. “The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional,” Attorney General Eric Holder wrote at the time.
The DOJ also filed a forceful brief last week in support of a female federal court employee who was suing the federal government for denying her access to equal benefits for her wife. In the brief, the DOJ acknowledged that “the federal government has played a significant and regrettable role in the history of discrimination against gay and lesbian individuals” and that DOMA “was motivated in substantial part by animus toward gay and lesbian individuals and their intimate relationships.”
In its decision Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit cited that brief. “In the context of the Defense of Marriage Act,” the Ninth Circuit wrote, “the United States has recently taken the position that classifications based on sexual orientation should be subjected to heightened scrutiny.”
“The circumstances and balance of hardships have changed,” the Ninth Circuit wrote, “and [the government] can no longer satisfy the demanding standard for issuance of a stay.”
Steve Benen: In another legal win for the Affordable Care Act, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional … It is the first federal appellate bench to rule on the constitutionality of the reform law.
It’s worth appreciating the fact that the outcome today was by no means assured. The 6th Circuit is considered one of the nation’s more conservative appellate benches, and one of the judges who upheld the constitutionality of the ACA was Judge Jeffrey Sutton, a nominee of George W. Bush, and a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Indeed, Sutton, a Federalist Society veteran, has been described as “one of the nation’s leading advocates for conservative states-rights positions.”
Far-right activists hoped, and many assumed, Sutton would be a key ally in overturning the law. He was not. Indeed, he is the first federal judge to consider the legality of the ACA on the merits who “broke ranks” – that is, a conservative judge who sided with the Obama administration’s position.
……It’s hard to see this as anything but a major victory for the law, the administration, and common sense…..