"The U.S. Supreme Court is refusing to block enforcement of the Defense Department's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy on gays in the military while a federal appeals court considers the issue," the Associated Press writes.
SCOTUSBlog sums up the news this way:
"The Supreme Court, without noting any dissent, agreed on Friday to leave the military's 'don't ask/don't tell' policy in effect while its constitutionality is under review in lower courts."
The High Court's order is posted here. It says simply that:
"The application to vacate the stay entered by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on November 1, 2010, presented to Justice Kennedy and by him referred to the Court is denied. Justice Kagan took no part in the consideration or decision of this application."
The request had been brought to the court by the Log Cabin Republicans, which, as the AP writes, has "challenged the constitutionality of the policy."
UPDATE, 5:56 p.m.: NPR's Nina Totenberg reports that Justice Elena Kagan, who was previously the government's chief appellate advocate, recused herself from the case:
Her recusal raises the possibility that when the case does get to the Supreme Court, there could be a tie vote. A tie means the lower court's decision is automatically upheld.
In October federal Judge Virginia Phillips struck down the "don't ask don't tell" policy as unconstiutional, and for eight days the military was barred from refusing to sign up and from discharging soldiers and sailors because they were gay. But the San Francisco-based federal appeals court blocked that decision while it considers the the Obama administration's appeal.
Today's Supreme Court action means the current DADT policy will be in place until at least March, unless Congress steps in. Totenberg adds:
President Obama, backed by a soon-to-be-released Pentagon study on gays in the military, is expected to press Congress in the lame duck session to act quickly to reverse the policy.