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Trump’s radical Supreme Court lets him have bigoted military ban — for now

Over the last two years, Trump has solidified the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, and today they handed him a major win: allowing his transgender troop ban to go into effect.

By Lisa Needham - January 22, 2019
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Today, the Supreme Court of the United States voted 5-4 to stay lower court decisions and let Trump’s transgender troop ban go into effect while the cases proceed through various courts of appeal.

That victory comes courtesy of an incredibly emboldened conservative majority on the court, installed by Trump and the GOP to carry out Trump’s bigoted policies.

The decision broke along ideological lines, with all four liberal justices voting to deny the stay. The ruling doesn’t mean that the Trump administration has won yet, but it does mean that the ban goes into effect now. This is even though lower courts in every jurisdiction that considered a case on the matter ruled against the ban, enjoining the administration from implementing it, although the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals later overturned one of those injunctions.

Typically, what is supposed to happen is that each of those lower court rulings would proceed through the courts of appeal in those jurisdictions. However, the administration engaged in an almost unprecedented procedural move and asked the court to immediately stay those rulings and allow the ban to go into effect. It’s essentially jumping the line, but the move worked thanks to Trump-appointed Justices Neil Gorsuch, holder of a stolen Supreme Court seat, and Brett Kavanaugh, a longtime GOP political operative.

So now, a policy that was created via a Trump tweet, a policy so bigoted even Trump’s own military people asked him to drop it, a policy where Trump lied about even consulting with his own generals, now goes into effect.

The ban makes some nominal concessions, allowing several hundred openly transgender troops to stay in the military and allowing transgender people to serve if they do so in their “biological sex” — in other words, if they don’t transition. But it prohibits new individuals from enlisting and means that most transgender troops face the harsh reality they can be kicked out.

The Court declined the administration’s other request to jump the line. The DOJ had asked the Court to review those lower court findings, skipping over any chance for appellate courts to rule.

However, that’s not a bright spot. Given that five justices voted to grant the stay, it is likely there are at least four justices that will eventually vote to hear the case once one makes its way through the full appeals process. And given this Court’s solid conservative majority, it’s highly likely they’ll vote to permanently ban transgender troops from serving.

There’s just no reason for this policy, save for outright bigotry. Under Obama, the Defense Department engaged in a thoughtful long-term review of the ban on transgender troops, coming to the considered conclusion that transgender troops did not harm unit cohesion or military readiness. Trump reversed all of that with a thoughtless tweet.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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