Politics & Government

Air Force nurse's 'don't ask, don't tell' case goes to judge

The decision on whether to give Maj. Margaret Witt her job back now rests in the hands of U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton.

Attorneys finished their arguments in the former military nurse's lawsuit Tuesday, and Leighton promised to deliver his decision at 1:30 p.m. Friday.

He made it clear he is not comfortable with the task.

"This is not the way to run a railroad," Leighton said at the conclusion of the case.

The judge must create ground between the "don't ask, don't tell policy," which forbids open homosexuality in the military, and a 2008 ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Appeals Court sent Witt's case back to Leighton's court, asking for more evidence that Witt's homosexuality made it necessary for the Air Force to discharge her.

Making the decision amounts to setting policy for dealing with homosexuality in the military, Leighton said, which is a job for Congress, not the courts.

"Is this the right venue for this decision to be made?" Leighton asked. "No. But I have a job to do."

Witt, a highly decorated flight nurse with 18 years of service, was fired for homosexual conduct in 2004. She contested her dismissal, arguing the action infringed on her constitutional rights.

Attorneys for the Air Force presented the core of their case Tuesday morning, arguing that all regulations in the military — including those involving homosexuality — must be enforced uniformly to maintain order and morale.

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