http://discernibletruth.com/Home/judge-reverses-trumps-lift-on-the-keystone-pipeline-ban/On Friday, the Trump administration petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case for its ban on transgender people in the military, which is currently working its way through three separate lower courts. The move is the latest in a line of Trump policies targeting transgender people, some of which have been successfully stalled or struck down in federal appeals courts.
The ban on transgender troops, endorsed by President Trump in March, is a revised version of an earlier ban that was already struck down by the federal courts. In it, the administration is looking to circumvent the injunctions against the original ban by modifying its language, targeting people diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” rather than simply all transgender servicemembers. The judges in Washington state, California, and D.C. that struck down the original ban, however, decided that such alterations made no fundamental difference to what the administration was trying to do.
The petition was filed only days after Trump lashed out at Chief Justice John Roberts on Twitter, in response to Roberts’ statement condemning the president’s comments about “Obama judges” in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Ninth Circuit has issued a number of crucial injunctions against the administration, upholding DACA protections and the ban on the Keystone XL pipeline, and is preparing to weigh in on this case as well. “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Roberts said. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”
“Sorry Chief Justice Roberts,” the president wrote, “but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’ and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country…We need protection and security – these rulings are making our country unsafe.”
And safety is, in a sense, the administration’s rationale for why its appeal should be allowed to circumvent the lower courts. The case, they said, “involves an issue of imperative public importance: the authority of the U.S. military to determine who may serve in the Nation’s armed forces.” Trump had Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis submit an “implementation plan” for the ban, which he did a few months ago. The president said that by banning transgender service members, he was “doing the military a great favor.”
The American Psychiatric Association, whose definition of gender dysphoria as a clinical condition is being used by the administration, released a statement condemning Trump’s effort. “No scientific evidence has shown that allowing transgender people to serve in the armed forces has had an impact on readiness or unit cohesion,” it said. “What research does show is that discrimination and stigma undermine morale and readiness by creating a significant source of stress for sexual minorities that can harm their health and well-being.” The association has issued a number of rebukes of the administration’s policies using a psychological framework, including of the family separations policy at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The association’s statement echoed the language used by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in her decision last October, one of the original injunctions against the policy. “[T]here is absolutely no support for the claim that the ongoing service of transgender people would have any negative effective on the military at all,” she wrote. “In fact, there is considerable evidence that it is the discharge and banning of such individuals that would have such effects.” Kollar-Kotelly also argued that a “bare invocation of ‘national defense’” by the administration would not be enough to defeat injunctions against the military.
The administration’s effort to impose the ban is only the latest in a line of policies designed to target transgender Americans. Among its other stratagems are a proposal by the Department of Health and Human Services to redefine sex under Title IX – effectively excluding transgender individuals from that act’s protections against sex-based discrimination in schools and colleges – and the withdrawal of Obama-era policies for transgender students in public schools. Jeff Sessions, before he resigned as attorney general, likewise issued a memo challenging the applicability of civil rights protections to transgender employees or those seeking jobs.
In the case of the military ban, this is the fourth time in the past few months that the administration has attempted to circumvent lower courts and appeal to the Supreme Court, and Trump’s critics are beginning to lash out over the repeated attempts. “Trump’s lawyers fail to understand that the government is not entitled to play leapfrog whenever it loses in federal court,” Joshua Matz, a lawyer working on behalf of the ban’s challengers, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.
Jennifer Levi, a transgender rights project director at GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), called the maneuver “one more reckless attempt by the Trump administration to push through a discriminatory policy.”
“There is no urgency here and no reason for the court to weigh in at this juncture,” she added, an argument that has been spelled out by a number of the president’s critics.
As with the other cases fast-tracked to the Supreme Court by petition, Trump’s solicitor general Noel J. Francisco has insisted that issue merits a ruling before the end of the court’s term in June. He argues that the case meets the standard, laid out in the rules for the Supreme Court, of being “of such imperative importance as to justify deviation from normal appellate practice.” The court, however, has yet to say whether it will accept the administration’s account of what justifies such a deviation.