Another Loss for Trump: Federal Judge Rules Military Still Has to Accept Transgender Recruits

A federal judge dealt yet another blow to the Trump administration — which, other than passing an almost universally-hated tax bill, has yet to accomplish anything — on Monday. Last week, the White House asked the federal courts to delay the implementation of an Obama-era order requiring the Pentagon to begin accepting transgender recruits by January 1, 2018;  U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly denied the request, citing the vagueness of the administration’s reasoning for seeking the delay.

“The court will not stay its preliminary injunction pending defendants’ appeal,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote in the decision.

The ruling argued against the Trump camp’s assertion that the military would be “irreparably harmed” by having to implement such a “significant and complex policy change” by New Year’s Day:

[The declaration] fails to acknowledge the considerable amount of time Defendants have already had to prepare for the implementation of this particular policy. The directive from the Secretary of Defense requiring the military to prepare to begin allowing accession of transgender individuals was issued on June 30, 2016—nearly one and a half years ago. For more than a year preceding the summer of 2017, it was the policy and intention of the military that transgender individuals would soon begin to accede. Moreover, the Court issued the preliminary injunction in this case approximately six weeks ago, and since then Defendants have been on notice that they would be required to implement the previously established policy of beginning to accept transgender individuals on January 1, 2018. In other words, with only a brief hiatus, Defendants have had the opportunity to prepare for the accession of transgender individuals into the military for nearly one and a half years.

The judge’s written decision goes on to state that the declaration submitted by the administration “glosses over the fact that considerable work has been done already during this lengthy period” and that it “uses sweeping and conclusory statements to support [the] assertion that there is an unmanageable amount of work left to do.”

Further, the court ruling found that the administration’s insistence that the delay would not be “harmful” to transgender recruits to be “unpersuasive.”

As the Court has already held, Plaintiffs were being injured every day the Presidential Memorandum’s directive preventing accession was in force. That directive “stigmatizes Plaintiffs as less capable of serving in the military, reduces their stature among their peers and officers, stunts the growth of their careers, and threatens to derail their chosen calling or access to unique educational opportunities.” Oct. 30, 2017 Mem. Op. at 73. It also subjects them to a continuing alleged violation of their rights under the Fifth Amendment. Id. Moreover, there is evidence in the record suggesting that if the Accession Directive remains in effect, it would render Plaintiff Regan Kibby ineligible to attend the Naval Academy and prevent Plaintiff Dylan Kohere from enrolling as a cadet in his university’s ROTC program.

Trump originally signed a presidential order not only banning new transgender recruits from joining the military but also kicking out those already serving back in August.

After issuing the directive, President Trump argued on Twitter that the military could not be “burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.” Experts calculated that the armed forces typically spend roughly 0.13% of the overall defense budget on the medical services provided to transgender soldiers.

Judge Kollar-Kotelly temporarily blocked Trump’s order in October on the grounds of it being unconstitutional.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to the news by saying the administration would comply with the ruling.

“As of right now, they’re simply complying with a court order and preparing to implement a previous policy to remain in compliance,” she said. “The Department of Justice is currently reviewing the legal options to ensure that the president’s directive can be implemented.”