DADT: Crunch Time for James Webb

Whether the Senate repeals the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell statute might be up to Jim Webb.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has voted to repeal the Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell statute and give the Pentagon discretion to end the policy.

The vote?  16-12, with Maine’s Susan Collins voting to join all but one of the panel’s Democrats.  The lone Democratic dissenter?  James Webb.

Given Republican homophobic hysteria on the issue, the GOP has predictably threatened to filibuster the measure when it hits the floor.  Since Ben Nelson has already agreed to it, it’s hard to see any other Democrats peeling off, especially because Blanche Lincoln is still locked in a primary.

That means that Jim Webb may be the one who has to decide on cloture.

What will it be, Senator?

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

7 thoughts on “DADT: Crunch Time for James Webb”

  1. I can't imagine him voting against cloture if he's vote 60.

    Voting against the bill itself, sure.

  2. Since women were integrated into the military, I have been puzzled by hostility to gays. Before women were in, there was a plausible argument (I think not correct, but plausible) that unit cohesion was threatened by romance in the ranks. And the same argument applied to presence of gays. Once they brought women in, they had to deal with it: lots of norms and rules about not promoting the person with whom you are sleeping, etc. And once you have done that, bringing gays in seems like a freebie, to me: you have already built the culture for dealing with the possibility of romance. Better, in fact: gay romance does not lead to pregnancy discharge of expensively trained soldiers.

  3. Dave, hostility to gays was never based on arguments, plausible or otherwise. The arguments were and are a facade for bigotry.

  4. I'm not too good with my Senate procedure, but isn't this an appropriations bill, requiring only 51 votes?

  5. Given that Collins voted it out of the Armed Forces Committee, I assume she'd defect, giving 60 without Webb. Snowe probably would too.

  6. Henry says:

    "Dave, hostility to gays was never based on arguments, plausible or otherwise. The arguments were and are a facade for bigotry."

    I'll second and extend. It's just a continuation of the arguments against allowing blacks in, and then against having integrated units. In thirty years, only the Rand Pauls (and many teabagger equivalents, if you get them drunk enough to open up) will oppose that.

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