The Department of Defense has been
ordered to turn over previously withheld documents on the military's
ban on transgender troops.
U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman, who
was appointed by President Bill Clinton, issued the order on Friday
as part of an ongoing legal challenge to the policy, the
The Trump administration has asserted
deliberative process privilege in withholding the documents. Pechman
disagreed and ordered the administration to produce the documents by
The case, Karnowski v. Trump, is
one of four challenging Trump's decision in 2017 to prohibit
transgender people from serving in the military “in any capacity.”
The U.S. Supreme Court allowed the
policy to go into effect as the cases proceed.
At issue is whether Trump's comments on
the policy affected an ongoing review of open transgender service
being conducted by former Defense Secretary James Mattis.
“[O]ne of the central questions in
this litigation is whether the Mattis Policy was 'dictated' by the
president and therefore 'preordained,' or whether it is the product
of independent military judgment, separate and apart from the
president's tweet,” Pechman wrote. “The documents at issue in
this motion are directed to this central question – whether the
Mattis Policy was nothing more than the implementation of the 2017
memorandum or an independent review.”
Pechman noted that the Defense
Department was implementing the policy of open service as directed by
former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter under President Barack Obama.
“This came to a screeching halt with
the president's tweet,” she wrote.
The documents in question “do not
deal with a policy process,” Pechman wrote. “The DPP is designed
to protect the deliberative process, it is not to be a method for
avoiding production of 'inconvenient' or embarrassing documents.”