A federal judge has denied the Trump administration’s last-minute attempt at stopping transgender people from enlisting in the military on Jan. 1, bringing the case one step closer to a potential Supreme Court showdown.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit denied the Justice Department’s emergency stay on a court order prohibiting a ban on transgender people serving in the military. Government lawyers can now try to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, but with just over a week left, the clock is ticking.
“Three courts have now held that President Trump’s attempt to ban transgender people from the military is blatantly unconstitutional, but the Pentagon continues to drag its heels and try to implement Trump’s discriminatory ban,” said Josh Block, an ACLU senior staff attorney, when the Justice Department filed their motion to appeal Monday.
While the case plays out, the Pentagon has indicated it intends to follow federal court orders. The Department of Defense issued a seven-page memo on Wednesday, detailing how it will accept and process transgender recruits. For example, transgender recruits will be able to choose the bathroom of their preferred gender, and superiors will address the recruit by their preferred pronoun.
“As always, every applicant will be treated with dignity and respect,” wrote Capt. David Kemp, the head of U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command.
The legal ping-pong began in July when Trump tweeted that the U.S. government “will not accept or allow Transgender [sic] individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” A month later, he formalized the tweeted edict in a memo to the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security, opening the door to the deluge of lawsuits.
Transgender military personnel were first allowed to serve openly on June 30, 2016, following an announcement by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.