Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The CHUTZPAH of Judiciary Activism

First it was Chief U. S. District Judge Vaughan Walker, who earned himself two Chutzpah of the Week awards, one for his handling of the challenge to the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage and the second over abuses of civil liberties in the name of “homeland security.”  Now we have his colleague, also a U. S. District Judge, Virginia Phillips, who has moved forward on grounds of constitutionality to achieve what the Senate, hog-tied by partisanship, could not.  Here is the story as it just appeared on the BBC News Web site:

A US judge has ordered a nationwide halt to enforcement of the country's ban on openly gay military personnel.

US District Judge Virginia Phillips last month ruled the "don't ask, don't tell" policy unconstitutional.

Under the policy, gay people can serve in the military but face expulsion if their sexuality is discovered.

President Barack Obama and some military leaders have called for it to be overturned. A legislative attempt to do so failed in the Senate last month.

The US Department of Justice has 60 days to appeal but may opt not to do so.

Judge Phillips appears to believe that matters of civil liberties should not be held hostage to partisan bickering, which is all the more interesting in light of how the case came to her bench:

The lawsuit was brought by the Log Cabin Republicans, a pro-gay Republican group, on behalf of openly gay military personnel who had been discharged under the policy.

At the very least this is yet another opportunity to appreciate irony;  but, while it may still be early in the week, it seems appropriate for Judge Phillips to join Judge Walker as a Chutzpah of the Week laureate.

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