Attorneys for the federal government asked the court to fast-track cases on the issue after lower courts had blocked the administration from implementing the policy the president signed in March. That ban adopted recommendations from US Defence Secretary James Mattis, who said “transgender persons who require or have undergone gender transition” were no longer permitted to serve.
The move also arrived as a three-judge panel on the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals was still reviewing one of the cases, hearing arguments as recently as last month. In its request, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to review preliminary district court rulings before the Ninth Circuit is provided its opportunity to rule on the case.
“The administration is in a rush because they know that every day that transgender people continue to enlist and serve with distinction is another day that the courts and the public see this irrational policy for what it is,” Sarah McBride, national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement to The Independent. “There is simply no reason to circumvent the traditional judicial process in pursuit of banning qualified, patriotic Americans from serving their country.”
Mr Trump has continued to target the transgender community since assuming the Oval Office, signing the latest implementation of his ban in the military after previous versions were blocked by the courts. His administration has also reportedly considered erasing all civil rights protections that have been afforded to transgender people by requiring all US citizens to legally identify with the gender listed on their birth certificate.
The Trump administration previously said it would ask the Supreme Court to weigh in on the president’s demands if the Ninth Circuit Court had not ruled on the case by Friday.
But despite the administration calling on the high court to intervene on the issue, oral arguments for Doe v Trump are still currently scheduled to take place in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals next month.
The National Centre for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), who were the first to challenge the ban and currently represent plaintiffs in two of the three cases, refuted the administration’s requests.
“There is no urgency here and no reason for the Court to weigh in at this juncture,” said Jennifer Levi, transgender rights project director for GLAD. “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.”
Shannon Minter, legal director for NCLR, also warned against Mr Trump’s ban on transgender military members, saying the move “would upend thousands of lives and weaken our Armed Forces.”
“The great majority of people in this country recognise that transgender people who can meet the same standards as others should have an equal opportunity to serve,” the director said.