Judge blocks Trump trans ban in military
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., Monday granted an injunction to stop President Trump’s policy banning transgender people from the military from taking effect until a lawsuit challenging the new ban can be settled.
The new Trump ban was scheduled to take effect March 23, 2018.
The judge’s order came in a preliminary ruling on Doe v. Trump, a lawsuit filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLAD (the GLBTQ Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders) on behalf of eight plaintiffs.
Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a Clinton appointee, issued the 76-page memorandum opinion October 30, saying the transgender service members pressing the lawsuit are likely to win on their claim that the new Trump ban violates their rights to due process and equal protection. She also signaled she would likely scrutinize the proposed ban with a heightened level of judicial review.
“As a form of government action that classifies people based on their gender identity, and disfavors a class of historically persecuted and politically powerless individuals, the President’s directives are subject to a fairly searching form of scrutiny,” wrote Kollar-Kotelly. The “fairly searching” scrutiny refers to an important judicial consideration when a court looks at whether a law that treats one group of people differently than others. Laws that disfavor racial minorities receive “strict” scrutiny; laws that disfavor women receive an intermediate level of scrutiny. Most other laws can pass muster with a simple “rational” reason.
GLAD attorney Jennifer Levi noted that this is “not the first time a court has applied heightened review” but she said it is an “extraordinarily important decision.”
It is the first court action against the proposed Trump transgender ban since last summer when President Trump announced the ban.
Levi and Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said Monday’s order keeps the military’s policy concerning transgender service members where it was before last summer, when President Trump began rolling out his plans to ban transgender people. Prior to that, the military was set to enforce on January 2, 1018, a policy approved by the administration of President Obama to allow transgender people to enlist and serve.
But on July 26, President Trump announced on Twitter that the Department of Defense should ban transgender people in the military. A month later, he issued an official memorandum, directing the DOD to do so. That memo said the new ban would take effect March 23 and would remain in place “until such time as a sufficient basis exists upon which to conclude that terminating that policy and practice” would not have negative effects.
In her memorandum, Judge Kollar-Kotelly noted that the administration’s purported reasons for the new ban “do not appear to be supported by any facts….”
Two other lawsuits are pending against the ban –one by Lambda Legal and Outserve-SLDN (Karnoski v. Trump) in the U.S. District Court for Western Seattlel and one by the ACLU (Stone v. Trump) in U.S. District Court for Maryland.
Joshua Block, an attorney with the ACLU’s national LGBT project, said Monday’s memorandum “is the first decision striking down President Trump’s ban, but it won’t be the last.”
“The federal courts are recognizing what everyone already knows to be true: President Trump’s impulsive decision to ban on transgender people from serving in the military service was blatantly unconstitutional,” said Block.