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Judge Refuses to Limit Scope of Trump’s Ban on Trans Military Service

For a president obsessed with winning, Donald Trump can’t stop losing in court.

On Friday, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly refused a request by the federal government to limit the scope of an injunction against a Trump policy blocking transgender people from enlisting openly in the U.S. armed forces. The administration requested the court order apply solely to the plaintiffs in Doe v. Trump, a case brought forward by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD).

Kollar-Kotelly, who was the first judge to weigh in on the policy, did not budge on her earlier ruling against the trans military ban.

“Without supporting evidence, defendants’ bare assertion that the Court’s injunction poses a threat to military readiness is insufficient to overcome the public interest in ensuring that the government does not engage in unconstitutional and discriminatory conduct,” the U.S. District Court judge claimed.

The Clinton appointee then proceeded to quote her prior verdict.

“It must be remembered that all plaintiffs seek during this litigation is to serve their nation with honor and dignity,” she wrote from the D.C. bench.

Kollar-Kotelly added that transgender recruits volunteer “to face extreme hardships, to endure lengthy deployments and separation from family and friends, and to willingly make the ultimate sacrifice of their lives if necessary to protect the nation, the people of the United States, and the Constitution against all who would attack them.”

Jennifer Levi, director of GLAD’s transgender rights project, claimed Kollar-Kotelly’s latest ruling further confirmed what LGBTQ advocates already know: that the military ban is unfounded and discriminatory.

“The Trump administration is taking desperate measures to avoid continued compliance with Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s injunction,” Levi said in a statement. “But there is nothing to which they can point to justify excluding from the military transgender people who meet all fitness and readiness standards.”

“[A] ban would cause grave harm not only to transgender service members, but to the military itself,” she added.

Kollar-Kotelly said as much in her original October 2017 decision—viewed at the time as a sharp rebuke of the policy’s legal and practical basis. In a written ruling blocking the ban from taking effect, she claimed it “does not appear to be supported by any facts.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will be the next bench to sound off on the issue. Arguments are scheduled for Dec. 10.

Likely fearing yet another unfavorable ruling against the policy, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to take up the case, effectively bypassing lower courts. Solicitor General Noel Francisco claimed that “decisions imposing those injunctions are wrong, and they warrant this court’s immediate review.”

SCOTUS has not stated whether it would comply with the request.

Trump originally announced the ban in a series of July 2017 tweets claiming trans individuals would not be permitted to “serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.”

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” he claimed, even despite prior studies showing trans enlistment would have no impact on the armed forces.

The POTUS further outlined that policy in a March 2018 memo. It barred trans people with a history of gender dysphoria from serving except under “limited circumstances.”

Image via Getty


Nico Lang

Nico Lang is a staff writer for INTO, covering news, politics, and global LGBTQ issues.