U.S. Supreme Court - The FindLaw U.S. Supreme Court Opinion Summaries Blog

SCOTUS Leaves Transgender Military Ban in Play

With some exceptions, transgender people may not serve in the United States military.

That is the effect of two rulings in Trump v. Karnoski and Trump v. Stockman. A divided U.S. Supreme Court lifted orders from federal judges who had imposed nationwide injunctions on President Trump's ban on transgender people in the military.

In 2017, Trump restricted people from the military who had changed their gender or who seek to change it. Under the Supreme Court ruling, the president's policy will continue.

Injunctions Stayed

The federal government sought emergency applications to stay the injunctions, issued in December 2017 by judges in California and Washington. Meanwhile, the government is appealing those judges' rulings in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In 5-4 orders, a Supreme Court majority granted the government's requests to stay. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan were in the minority.

Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco, arguing for the administration, told the Justices that "unfortunately" it was necessary to seek the emergency relief because of a growing trend in the courts to grant nationwide injunctions.

"Such injunctions previously were rare, but in recent years they have become routine," he wrote. "In less than two years, federal courts have issued 25 of them, blocking a wide range of significant policies involving national security, national defense, immigration and domestic issues."

Transgender People May Serve

Trump did not ban all transgender people from military service. Those already serving openly in the military may continue to serve.

The ABA Journal reported that transgender people without a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria may also serve "in their biological sex."

According to reports, the policy makes exceptions for several hundred transgender people already serving.

Related Resources: