Court pressed to rule on mil­i­tary trans­gen­der ban

Merced Sun-Star (Saturday) - - News - BY ROBERT BARNES

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion on Fri­day once again asked the Supreme Court to by­pass the usual le­gal process to take on an­other con­tro­ver­sial is­sue – Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s de­ci­sion to ban trans­gen­der peo­ple from mil­i­tary ser­vice.

So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral Noel Fran­cisco asked the jus­tices to con­sol­i­date the chal­lenges to the ban and rule on the is­sue in its cur­rent term.

The chal­lenges are to the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s or­der that would pro­hibit trans­gen­der men and women from en­list­ing, pos­si­bly sub­ject cur­rent ser­vice mem­bers to dis­charge and deny cer­tain med­i­cal care. The or­der re­verses an Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion pol­icy al­low­ing trans­gen­der men and women to serve openly and to re­ceive fund­ing for sex-re­as­sign­ment surgery.

Fed­eral judges so far have pro­hib­ited the Trump or­der from be­ing im­ple­mented.

Trump in July 2017 sur­prised mil­i­tary lead­ers and mem­bers of Con­gress when he abruptly an­nounced the pro­posed ban in sev­eral tweets. In an­nounc­ing the change, Trump said he was “do­ing the mil­i­tary a great fa­vor” by “com­ing out and just say­ing it.”

Chal­lengers have used such state­ments to ar­gue that the di­rec­tive is the re­sult of dis­crim­i­na­tion rather than a study of how al­low­ing trans­gen­der per­son­nel af­fects the mil­i­tary, and lower court judges largely have agreed.

“There is ab­so­lutely no sup­port for the claim that the on­go­ing ser­vice of trans­gen­der peo­ple would have any neg­a­tive ef­fect on the mil­i­tary at all. In fact, there is con­sid­er­able ev­i­dence that it is the dis­charge and ban­ning of such in­di­vid­u­als that would have such ef­fects,” U.S. Dis­trict Judge Colleen Kol­lar-Kotelly wrote in a case filed in the Dis­trict of Columbia.

The U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the D.C. Cir­cuit is sched­uled to hear an ap­peal of the rul­ing next month.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has taken an ag­gres­sive pos­ture when lower courts have ruled against it on im­por­tant is­sues. It has asked the Supreme Court to ac­cept the cases be­fore they have run through the nor­mal ap­peals process. The ad­min­is­tra­tion ar­gues that such cases can only be set­tled by the high court.

The ef­fort has drawn crit­i­cism from those who say such re­quests puts the Supreme Court in po­si­tion to be seen as do­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s bid­ding.

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