Supreme Court Upholds Trump Restrictions on Transgender Military Service
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Trump administration can enforce its restrictions on transgender people in the military while lower court cases contesting their exclusion are continuing to be heard.
The high court overturned lower court rulings that had blocked the Defense Department from implementing the restrictions, but for now also declined to consider the legality of keeping transgender people out of the U.S. armed forces.
The Pentagon in years past had banned transgender people from serving in the military, but former President Barack Obama's administration said transgender people already serving could do so openly and set a date when transgender people could enlist.
But President Donald Trump's administration reviewed the policy and sought to limit the service of transgender people to only those who are not seeking to undergo gender transitions. The Trump rules apply to those joining or staying in the military.
The 5-4 conservative court majority overturned the injunctions against the Trump administration policy, while liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor said they would have kept them in place blocking the policy.
But the justices refused the administration's request to decide the merits of its ban before a California-based federal appellate court has a chance to rule.
Court Backs Curbs on Transgender Military Service
Civil rights and transgender rights groups sued in 2017 to overturn the Trump administration restrictions. The Trump administration says they are necessary because of the "tremendous medical costs and disruption" of having transgender military personnel.
In March 2018, Trump said that rather than a total ban on transgender people in the military he would support a policy to bar the service of those who seek or have undergone steps toward gender transition. Trump also banned those who experience gender dysphoria, a condition the American Psychiatric Association defines as clinically significant distress due to "a conflict between a person's physical or assigned gender" and the individual's gender identity.
Until Tuesday, federal courts had blocked the administration's policy, finding that it likely violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law.