A ban on transgender people serving in the US military instigated by President Donald Trump is set to go ahead after a Supreme Court ruling.
The nation’s highest court delivered the pair of orders on Tuesday morning, effectively reinstating the administration’s ban on transgender military service as a lengthy court battle over its merit and legality continues. The Supreme Court issued temporary stays in both Trump v Karnoski and Trump v Stockman, two cases in which lower courts had placed halts on the ban as proceedings continued. The stays were issued along party lines, with Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kegan dissenting from the decision.
The transgender military ban was promptly assailed by congressional Democrats and civil rights groups when it was first announced by the president in the summer of 2017. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted:
“No one with the strength & bravery to serve in the US military should be turned away because of who they are. This hateful ban is purpose-built to humiliate our brave transgender members of the military who serve with honor & dignity.”
Human Rights campaigners call ban “despicable”
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organisation, accused the Trump administration of pushing “anti-transgender prejudices onto the military”. HRC President Chad Griffin called the ban “despicable”.
“There is simply no way to spin it, the Trump-Pence Administration is going all in on its discriminatory, unconstitutional and despicable ban on transgender troops.”
Mr Trump received recommendations from former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in February for dealing with transgender individuals serving in the military. The White House said Mr Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen agreed with the policy.
The 5-4 decision marks a significant victory for Mr Trump, whose administration has battled for two years in court to deny transgender folks from serving in all branches of the US military. While the stay is only temporary, it could reflect that the court — which now features a Republican-majority — will defer to the executive branch on matters of national security. The court also declined to take action on the administration’s request to decide by early summer whether Mr Trump’s bid to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) programme was legal. Daca has been protected by several federal courts.