The US Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Pentagon to restrict military service for transgender individuals, however, litigation in the lower courts over the Trump administration’s policy has yet to be concluded.
The court ruled 5-4 saying that the policy restricting transgender people from serving in the military can be enforced. The ruling came after the Justice Department requested that the Supreme Court bypass the lower courts and decide the issue, yet the request was previously rejected on Tuesday, directing the case through the appeals and lower courts.
Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec praised the Supreme Court’s ruling, saying that the Supreme Court had cleared “the way for the policy to go into effect while litigation continues.”
“The Department of Defense has the authority to create and implement personnel policies it has determined are necessary to defend our nation. Due to lower courts issuing nationwide injunctions, our military had been forced to maintain a prior policy that poses a risk to military effectiveness and lethality for over a year,” Kupec said.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Carla Gleason said in a statement that they would continue working with the Department of Justice regarding the next steps in the lawsuit, adding that “as always, we treat all transgender persons with respect and dignity.”
The Pentagon allowed to enforce its policy that prohibits “transgender persons who require or have undergone gender transition” from serving, after several trial judges around the country had issued injunctions against the policy’s enforcement while it is being decided in the courts.
Transgender troops had been serving openly since June 2016 when the Obama administration passed legislation lifting a ban that had previously been in place. In July 2017 US President Donald Trump sought to restrict service to those who do seek to undergo gender transitions in a series of Tweets.
“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” Trump tweeted on July 26, 2017.
Key concerns surrounding the previous administration’s policies were whether currently enlisted troops have had medical or other issues that cause delays or problems with their ability to deploy or meet physical or other standards for their jobs.