The Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it will allow President Donald Trump to temporarily enforce an order barring transgender individuals from serving in the military.
As is typical of orders of this nature, the Court gave no reason for its decision, though Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan noted their dissent.
The Trump administration first petitioned the Supreme Court to decide directly on the legality of the trans-soldiers ban, after federal trial judges in California, Washington, D.C. and Washington state issued orders prohibiting its enforcement. The plaintiffs in those lawsuits argue the policy violates a range of constitutional rights including the First Amendment, equal protection, and due process.
The government said the Court’s intervention was necessary because the lower court decision “require the military to maintain a policy that, in its own professional judgment, risks undermining readiness, disrupting unit cohesion, and weakening military effectiveness and lethality.”
Subsequent to that request, the Department of Justice filed a second petition proposing an alternative: in the event the Court denied the first request, the administration suggested that the justices allow enforcement of the ban while litigation continues in the lower courts. The Court granted that request Tuesday.
The president abruptly announced on Twitter that the military would not permit trans personnel to serve in the military. Thereafter, former Defense Secretary James Mattis convened a panel of military experts to conduct an independent review of the subject. Their findings served as the basis of Mattis’ February 2018 memo which implemented Trump’s request.
That memo provides that individuals with a history of gender dysphoria — a clinical term referring to anxiety triggered by the conflict between one’s biological sex and the gender with which they identify — may enlist provided they are willing to serve in their biological sex and have not suffered gender dysphoria for a continuous three year period prior to recruitment. Active personnel who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria may continue to serve provided they do so in their biological sex.
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