A Seattle federal court just ruled against President Donald Trump’s revised transgender military service ban, which was announced through a memo by the Trump administration in March.
U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled against the ban, citing no significant changes to the original ban, which was rejected in the first place.
She wrote the revised ban does not “substantively rescind or revoke the ban, but instead threaten the very same violations that caused it and other courts to enjoin the ban in the first place.”
“Defendants claim that the 2018 Memorandum and the Implementation Plan differ from the 2017 Memorandum in that they do not mandate a 'categorical' prohibition on service by openly transgender people and 'contain several exceptions allowing some transgender individuals to serve.' The Court is not persuaded. The Implementation Plan prohibits transgender people — including those who have neither transitioned nor been diagnosed with gender dysphoria — from serving, unless they are ‘willing and able to adhere to all standards associated with their biological sex,’” wrote Pechman.
“Requiring transgender people to serve in their 'biological sex' does not constitute 'open' service in any meaningful way, and cannot reasonably be considered an 'exception' to the Ban. Rather, it would force transgender service members to suppress the very characteristic that defines them as transgender in the first place,” she continued.
Pechman also ruled transgender individuals are essentially a “suspect class” because of the prejudice faced by the community on a regular basis and if the ban is ever ruled in favor of by the court, it will have to do so after satisfying “the most exacting level of scrutiny.”
“The history of discrimination and systemic oppression of transgender people in this country is long and well-recognized. Transgender people have suffered and continue to suffer endemic levels of physical and sexual violence, harassment, and discrimination in employment, education, housing, criminal justice, and access to health care,” she wrote.
The Trump administration submitted justification for the ban but it was not reviewed by Pechman as it was sent in at the last minute, therefore, whether the admitted documents answer the court’s concern is yet to be determined. However, Pechman remained unconvinced, allowing Trump to remain party to the case.
“Defendants to date have failed to identify even one general or military expert he consulted, despite having been ordered to do so repeatedly. Indeed, the only evidence concerning the lead-up to his Twitter announcement reveals that military officials were entirely unaware of the ban, and that the abrupt change in policy was ‘unexpected.’ Even [Defense Secretary James Mattis] was given only one day’s notice before President Trump’s Twitter announcement. As no other persons have ever been identified by defendants — despite repeated court orders to do so — the court is led to conclude that the ban was devised by the president, and the president alone,” she wrote.
The government’s failure to indicate who outlined the original military ban gives further fuels suspicions that Vice President Mike Pence allegedly overruled Mattis to formulate the revised transgender ban. Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN are representing the plaintiffs in the case.
“The court wants to expose this bigoted ban for all of its ugliness at trial, and we are happy to oblige. If it’s a full record the judge wants, then it’s a full record we will give her. We look forward to putting the capriciousness and cruelty of this discriminatory ban against transgender people on trial, where it can be relegated for good to the trash heap of history, alongside other vile military policies that discriminated based on race, sex, and sexual orientation,” Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Natalie Nardecchia commended the court’s decision.
Pechman’s ruling rendered the new ban unenforceable, similar to the fate of the original ban.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call