SCOTUS:Restrict Transgender in Military01/23 06:20
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Trump administration can go ahead with its plan to
restrict military service by transgender men and women while court challenges
continue, the Supreme Court said Tuesday.
The high court split 5-4 in allowing the plan to take effect, with the
court's five conservatives greenlighting it and its four liberal members saying
they would not have. The order from the court was brief and procedural, with no
elaboration from the justices.
The court's decision clears the way for the Pentagon to bar enlistment by
people who have undergone a gender transition. It will also allow the
administration to require that military personnel serve as members of their
biological gender unless they began a gender transition under less restrictive
Obama administration rules.
The Trump administration has sought for more than a year to change the
Obama-era rules and had urged the justices to take up cases about its
transgender troop policy immediately, but the court declined for now.
Those cases will continue to move through lower courts and could eventually
reach the Supreme Court again. The fact that five justices were willing to
allow the policy to take effect for now, however, makes it more likely the
Trump administration's policy will ultimately be upheld.
Both the Justice and Defense departments released statements saying they
were pleased by the Supreme Court's action. The Pentagon said its policy on
transgender troops is based on professional military judgment and necessary to
"ensure the most lethal and combat effective fighting force." Justice
Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said lower court rulings had forced the
military to "maintain a prior policy that poses a risk to military
effectiveness and lethality."
Before beginning to implement its policy the administration is expected to
need to make a procedural filing in one case in Maryland challenging the plan.
That request could be made this week.
Groups that sued over the Trump administration's policy said they ultimately
hoped to win their lawsuits over the policy. Jennifer Levi, an attorney for
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, said in a statement that the "Trump
administration's cruel obsession with ridding our military of dedicated and
capable service members because they happen to be transgender defies reason and
cannot survive legal review."
Until a few years ago service members could be discharged from the military
for being transgender. That changed under the Obama administration. The
military announced in 2016 that transgender people already serving in the
military would be allowed to serve openly. And the military set July 1, 2017,
as the date when transgender individuals would be allowed to enlist.
But after President Donald Trump took office, the administration delayed the
enlistment date, saying the issue needed further study. And in late July 2017
the president tweeted that the government would not allow "Transgender
individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military." He later directed
the military to return to its policy before the Obama administration changes.
Groups representing transgender individuals sued, and the Trump
administration lost early rounds in those cases, with courts issuing nationwide
injunctions barring the administration from altering course. The Supreme Court
put those injunctions on hold Tuesday, allowing the Trump administration's
policy to take effect.
The Trump administration's revised policy on transgender troops dates to
March 2018. The policy generally bars transgender people from serving unless
they do so "in their biological sex" and do not seek to undergo a gender
transition. But it has an exception for transgender troops who relied on the
Obama-era rules to begin the process of changing their gender.
Those individuals, who have been diagnosed with "gender dysphoria," a
discomfort with their birth gender, can continue to serve after transitioning.
The military has said that over 900 men and women had received that diagnosis.
A 2016 survey estimated that about 1 percent of active duty service members,
about 9,000 men and women, identify as transgender.