The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth
Circuit on Wednesday denied a second attempt by the Trump
administration to implement its plan to bar transgender people from
serving openly in the U.S. military.
In a series of tweets last summer,
President Donald Trump declared that the military will no longer
“accept or allow” transgender troops to serve “in any
capacity.” Four lawsuits have been filed challenging the ban.
In a two-page ruling, a three-judge
panel of the Ninth Circuit denied a request by the Justice Department
to dissolve a preliminary injunction blocking the ban from taking
effect. The injunction enables transgender people to continue to
serve and enlist in the military.
U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman
ruled in a suit filed by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN on behalf of
nine transgender people who are serving or wish to serve in the
military, three groups and the state of Washington. Pechman issued a
preliminary injunction blocking the ban. The Ninth Circuit denied a
Trump administration request to dissolve the injunction.
After Secretary of Defense James Mattis
released a report in support of Trump's policy, the administration
filed a new request. Mattis' report has been criticized by
transgender groups, who say it is filled with junk science.
court orders, Trump announces new ban on transgender troops.)
In Wednesday's order, the Ninth Circuit
said that the government's request “would upend, rather than
preserve, the status quo” as the cases work their way through the
“The Ninth Circuit, much like the six
other courts to have considered the proposed policy, has recognized
it for what it is – blatant and impermissible discrimination. The
court rejected the government’s attempt to ‘upend’ the status
quo, as well as the lives of transgender people serving and seeking
to serve our country.” Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn said
in a statement.
“It has been one year since President
Trump announced via tweet his plan to bar transgender people from the
military, and in that year four district courts and, now, three
courts of appeal have blocked its implementation. What more evidence
does the administration need before it abandons this discriminatory
and harmful scheme to prevent brave and qualified transgender people
from serving their country?” Renn added.
The ruling sets the stage for the U.S.
Supreme Court to intervene before Justice Anthony Kennedy steps down
at the end of July.
Renn said that it is possible that the
Justice Department would turn to the highest court in the land.
Kennedy would receive such a request but would likely refer the
matter to the full court.
“If the government does seek a stay,
and the request is referred to the full Supreme Court, it is unlikely
that a majority of the Supreme Court would allow the government to
immediately enforce its discriminatory plan,” Renn told the
Blade. “If there is a vote on a stay by the end of this
month, it is difficult to imagine that Justice Kennedy will want to
cap off his tenure on the court by allowing the military to toss
aside transgender people, and their sacrifices for our country, as if
they were disposable.”