The Trump administration is requesting that the U.S. Supreme Court hear cases challenging its policy banning transgender people from serving in the military. Federal judges in lower courts have so far held the proposed ban to be unconstitutional.
The Department of Justice filed a petition Friday asking the Supreme Court to rule on three separate cases consolidated into one, CNN reports, attempting to bypass the standard federal appeals process and presumably take advantage of a more conservative SCOTUS with the recent addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The trans military ban was first announced by Trump in July 2017 when he tweeted that “the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”
Following the failed attempt at upholding the ban outright, the White House announced a new version of the policy in March. Despite repeated attempts from federal courts to block it, the de facto ban is still keeping most trans troops out of service with bureaucratic red tape and increasingly obscure medical records requests.
“There is no urgency here and no reason for the Court to weigh in at this juncture,” says Jennifer Levi, transgender rights project director of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, in a statement. “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. This is simply one more attempt by a reckless Trump administration to push through a discriminatory policy. The policy flies in the face of military research and dozens of top military experts.”
“The great majority of people in this country recognize that transgender people who can meet the same standards as others should have an equal opportunity to serve,” adds Shannon Minter, legal director for National Center for Lesbian Rights. “Allowing President Trump’s ban to be implemented would upend thousands of lives and weaken our Armed Forces.”
The request is the latest move in the government’s continued effort to eliminate federal recognition and civil rights protections for an estimated 1.4 million transgender Americans. Last month a leaked memo indicated the Trump administration aims to legally erase the existence of trans people by defining gender “as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.”
The administration has already rolled back Obama-era protections for trans students and inmates and eliminated questions pertaining directly to gender identity on the 2020 Census.