Trump cuts 'disaster' court out of trans military ruling

Posted November 26, 2018

In the briefs filed yesterday, US solicitor general Noel Francisco explained that the dispute requires the justices' immediate attention because the "prior policy" of allowing transgender individuals to serve "posed too great a risk to military effectiveness and lethality": The government can't afford to keep the old policy in place for a year while it waits for the courts of appeals to issue their rulings and then appeals to the Supreme Court.

The administration has since limited the policy to transgender individuals with a history of gender dysphoria.

It defined such individuals as "those who may require substantial medical treatment, including through medical drugs or surgery". On July 26, 2017, Trump announced the USA military would not allow transgender individuals to serve.

"Exempting such persons from well-established mental health, physical health, and sex-based standards, which apply to all Service members, including transgender Service members without gender dysphoria, could undermine readiness, disrupt unit cohesion, and impose an unreasonable burden on the military that is not conducive to military effectiveness and lethality", read the recommendation that was included in a court filing.

For the fourth time in recent months, the Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to bypass lower courts and rule on a controversial proposal.

Mr Francisco said the military had been forced to continue its prior policy while the courts sorted out the matter.

The government's appeals of those rulings had been moving forward.

But judges in federal courts in Washington state, California, and Washington, D.C., refused to lift injunctions that they had issued against Mr. Trump's original ban to allow the updated policy to be enforced. "The injunctions preserve the status quo of the open service policy that was thoroughly vetted by the military itself and has been in place now for more than two years". Accordingly, the U.S. government is appealing those decisions, the Post noted.

Civil rights groups and gay rights organizations are fighting the president's order that would prohibit transgender men and women from enlisting, possibly subjecting current service members to discharge and denying them certain medical care. "In fact, there is considerable evidence that it is the discharge and banning of such individuals that would have such effects".

Administration officials say they want to ensure that the Supreme Court would be able to review the dispute before its term ends in June 2019.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has heard arguments on the merits of the case, but has not yet issued an opinion.

Attorney Peter Renn of Lambda Legal told the Washington Post Friday that "yet again, the Trump administration flouts established norms and procedures".