The conservative leaning court voted straight down party lines in a 5-4 decision that will now allow the Trump administration to enforce their transgender military policy while cases are still being heard in the lower courts.
Justices John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, along with recent Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh all voted in favor of lifting recent injunctions which were blocking the implementation of the ban, saying the Pentagon has a right to enforce the policy while cases are still being heard.
None of the justices released opinions regarding the decision, however Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan have all said they would have left the injunctions in place.
Justice Department Spokesperson Kerri Kupec said the department was pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision.
The Department of Defense has the authority to create and implement personnel policies it has determined are necessary to best defend our nation,” Kupec said. “Due to lower courts issuing nationwide injunctions, our military had been forced to maintain a prior policy that poses a risk to military effectiveness and lethality for over a year.”
Transgender advocates are blasting the decision, citing how transgender people have been serving without issue since 2016, when the Obama administration had originally opened up the military to allow them to serve openly. Opponents of the ban are vowing to continue to fight in the lower courts.
“For more than 30 months, transgender troops have been serving our country openly with valor and distinction, but now the rug has been ripped out from under them, once again,” said Peter Renn, counsel for Lambda Legal. “We will redouble our efforts to send this discriminatory ban to the trash heap of history where it belongs.”
President Trump originally tried to impose the ban via Twitter back in July 2017, however multiple injunctions were issued by federal courts preventing the policy from being implemented. Now that the policy will be allowed to take effect, most transgender people will now be disqualified from serving in the military with the following exceptions:
- Service members who have been stable for three years in their biological sex prior to joining the military can still serve.
- Service members diagnosed with "gender dysphoria” after joining the military can stay if they don’t require a change of gender.
- Members who were diagnosed with "gender dysphoria" before the 2016 policy went into effect can still serve and receive medical treatment.