A federal judge in Washington ordered Friday that a halt to President Trump’s transgender troop ban remain in place, saying that the government must prove its order “was sincerely motivated by compelling interests, rather than by prejudice or stereotype.”
In addition to keeping its injunction in place, the judge overseeing the case said that transgender people represent a “protected class” and, as such, that President Trump’s ban will have to meet the legal standard known as “strict scrutiny.”
Lambda Legal reacts:
The court found that the implementation plan the Administration issued in late March was not a new policy but rather threatens the very same constitutional violations and that the lawsuit brought by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN can proceed to trial.
Furthermore, the court also found that the effort to ban transgender people from military service must meet the most demanding level of scrutiny because it so clearly targets transgender people. Meanwhile, the preliminary injunction the court previously granted remains in place, preventing the implementation of the ban pending trial.
“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,” Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Natalie Nardecchia said.
“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.”
During congressional testimony Thursday, the Army’s top officials explained that they have no knowledge of the unit cohesion concerns expressed in a report justifying President Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.
Army Secretary Mark Esper and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley both said as much under questioning from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Esper, who said back in February that soldiers aren’t concerned about transgender service, reiterated, “Nothing has percolated up to my level.” When Gillibrand asked Milley if transgender troops have caused any issues with unit cohesion, he confirmed, “No. Not at all.”