Witt v. U.S. Dept. of the Air Force Call

27-Sep-2010

In 2004, just short of retirement, Major Margaret Witt was suspended after her commanders learned she was in a relationship with a civilian woman. The ACLU of Washington sued the U.S. Department of the Air Force, claiming that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and its application to Witt, violated her rights of liberty and equal protection. In 2006, Judge Leighton rejected these claims but was overruled by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2008. The Court of Appeals reinstated the lawsuit, holding that substantive due process demanded a heightened level of scrutiny. While the decision left in place the military’s ban, the court found that before separating a servicemember from his or her post, the military must prove that the individual’s conduct actually hurt morale or jeopardized another government interest. Speakers include Jim Lobsenz, Principal in the Seattle office of Carney Badley Spellman, P.S., and Diane H. Mazur, Professor of Law at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.