In one of the most controversial moves in his presidency, Trump announced in summer 2017 that he would prohibit trans people from serving in the U.S. military. Trump wrote that “the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” a statement that blindsided military leaders.
Since that time, at least four lawsuits have been filed seeking to stop the U.S. from implementing the trans ban in military services. Because of those cases, the trans ban is currently blocked from proceeding while the lawsuits are still pending, leaving many trans service members and would-be recruits unsure of what comes next.
Despite being blocked by the courts, the Trump administration wishes to implement a trans ban right away, before the litigation is concluded. In November 2018, Solicitor General Noel Francisco filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to weigh in on whether the U.S. should be blocked from implementing the ban during the pending litigation. Usually, a case would have to conclude and be appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court before they could issue an opinion, but the solicitor general is arguing that the case is so timely an important that the court should take it up for a decision without waiting for lower appeals courts to issue decisions.
Now, Plaintiffs’ lawyers opposing the trans ban are asking that the Supreme Court refrain from taking up the controversial case until all lower courts have made decisions. Plaintiffs in the lawsuits filed a brief arguing that the current rulings stopping the trans ban from going into effect should remain in place until all litigation finishes. Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, pushed back against the government’s request to speed up the trans ban implementation, saying in a statement, “By the military’s own account, inclusion of transgender service members makes our military stronger.”