JURIST Digital Scholars
Federal judge continues blocking ban on transgender troops
Federal judge continues blocking ban on transgender troops

A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] upheld [text, PDF] an injunction on Monday blocking a Presidential Memorandum that would prohibit transgender individuals from entering the military.

The Presidential Memorandum [text] banning transgender individuals from entering the military was issued in August 2017. A plan for the implementation of the Presidential Memorandum was issued by General Mattis in February 2018. The defendants sought to dismiss the complaint, issue a summary judgement and dissolve the preliminary injunction.

Because the Mattis Implementation Plan provided an exception for members already serving in the military, the defendants argued that most of the plaintiffs did not have standing because they would not be harmed by the plan. However, the court found that the plan would still single out the transgender members and “mark[] them as categorically unfit for military service.” The court explained that “[b]y singling these Plaintiffs out and stigmatizing them as members of an inherently inferior class of service members, the Mattis Implementation Plan causes Plaintiffs grave non-economic injuries that are alone sufficient to confer standing.”

The defendants argued that the claims should also be dismissed because the lawsuit was made challenging the Presidential Memorandum and the Mattis Implementation Plan is a different policy from that Presidential Memorandum. The court declared that the defendants “attempt[] to draw artificial and unwarranted boundaries between the various policy pronouncements in this case.” Instead, the court found that the plan is an implementation of the Presidential Memorandum, thus meaning that the plaintiffs challenge to the Presidential Memorandum is not moot.

In regards to the motion to dissolve the preliminary injunction, the court found that the Mattis Implementation Plan did not “resolve the constitutional issues that persuaded the Court that a preliminary injunction was warranted in the first place.” The court stated that it is “still concerned that the President’s 2017 directives constituted an abrupt reversal in policy, and a revocation of rights, announced without any of the formality, deliberative process, or factual support usually associated with such a significant action.”

The court notes that the opinion does not make any final claims on the constitutionality of the ban. Instead, the opinion only denies the motions for dismissal and motion to dissolve the preliminary injunction.

The court also removed [opinion, PDF] President Donald Trump as a party in the lawsuit on Monday. The plaintiffs were found to still be able to obtain “relevant and appropriate discovery related to the President” without the President included in the lawsuit. The plaintiffs were also found to be able to “enforce their legal rights and obtain all relief sought in this case without the President as a party.

Trump issued a memorandum [JURIST report] in March implementing the policy given by Mattis. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit previously rejected [JURIST report] a request to vacate a block against the implementation of the transgender military ban in July.