A court ruling striking down the Department of Defense's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy must be declared moot, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday according to Reuters.
Last year, a federal judge ruled the policy unconstitutional. However, while the case was still tangled up in the legal system, Congress passed a measure repealing the policy, which President Obama signed into law. Last week, the new policy allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the military took effect.
Those now-void legal rulings and factual findings have no precedential, preclusive or binding effect, the court wrote in their unanimous opinion.
This means that, while the decision by the court does not alter the new policy, the case cannot be used as precedent in any future cases coming to the court. This could be important for federal cases involving same-sex marriage, as challengers to the bans could have referred to the case to bolster their own.
The Log Cabin Republicans, a gay-rights oriented GOP group who filed the suit challenging the military policy, was displeased with the ruling.
Log Cabin Republicans v. United States said more than 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' should be repealed-it stood for the fundamental constitutional rights of service members not to be discriminated against by the nation they serve, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper said in a statement.
The court can vacate this ruling, but that does not change the fact that 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was unconstitutional, Cooper continued.
Dan Woods of law firm White & Case, who was the lead plaintiff attorney in the case, said in the statement that the Log Cabin Republicans will seek a re-hearing before the full Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.