Witt v. Department of the Air Force (amicus) Historic Case

At a Glance

Current Status 

On May 21, 2008, the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals reinstated Major Margaret Witt’s case against the Air Force challenging her suspension from duty under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy because of her sexual relationship with a woman.

Date Filed: 

October 23, 2006

Case Description 

Witt v. Department of Defense is a federal lawsuit that challenges the Air Force's "don't ask, don't tell" policy that discriminates against LGBT members of the military.

CCR and the International Commission of Jurists had submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Ninth Circuit on Major Margeret Witt’s behalf. CCR argued that the policy violates the right to privacy recognized in international law, as acknowledged by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), which looked to international law in striking down a Texas sodomy statute that criminalized consensual homosexual sex. The Ninth Circuit remanded Major Witt’s case, finding that “when the government attempts to intrude upon the personal and private lives of homosexuals, in a manner that implicates the rights identified in Lawrence, the government must advance an important governmental interest, the intrusion must significantly further that interest, and the intrusion must be necessary to further that interest.

Case Timeline

May 21, 2008
The Ninth Circuit Court of appeals reinstated Major Margaret Witt’s case against the Air Force challenging her suspension from duty under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy because of her sexual relationship with a woman.
May 21, 2008
The Ninth Circuit Court of appeals reinstated Major Margaret Witt’s case against the Air Force challenging her suspension from duty under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy because of her sexual relationship with a woman.
October 23, 2006
CCR submitted an amicus brief in the case which argued that the policy violates the right to privacy recognized in international law.
October 23, 2006
CCR submitted an amicus brief in the case which argued that the policy violates the right to privacy recognized in international law.