Appeals court rules in favor of Trump transgender military ban
At least one federal appeals court in the country hasn't gone off the deep end.
The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit sided with the Trump administration's ban on most transgender persons serving in the military. In so doing, the court recognized something that other appeals courts who have ruled against the administration have ignored; the president is commander in chief and must act in what he believes to be the best interests of the military.
The ruling hands Trump a win in a case that has seen several courts block the policy. But the policy still cannot take effect because of those other injunctions, which applied nationwide.
“Although today’s decision is not a final determination on the merits, we must recognize that the Mattis Plan plausibly relies upon the ‘considered professional judgment’ of ‘appropriate military officials’ ... and appears to permit some transgender individuals to serve in the military consistent with established military mental health, physical health, and sex-based standards,” wrote a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
“In light of the substantial constitutional arguments and the apparent showing that the policy accommodates at least some of plaintiffs’ interests, we think that the public interest weighs in favor of dissolving the injunction.”
Trump announced over Twitter in July 2017 that he intended to ban all transgender people from serving in the military.
Four lawsuits were filed against the ban, and lower courts in all four cases had blocked the policy from taking effect as the suits work their way through the legal system.
In March, then-Defense Secretary James Mattis released an implementation plan for Trump’s policy that would allow transgender people to serve if they do so in their biological sex.
The Trump administration then asked courts to dissolve their injunctions, arguing the Mattis plan is not a blanket ban on transgender people.
In essence, the ruling says that transgenders can believe they are whatever sex they want to believe they are, but if they want to serve in the military, they can't pretend they are anything but what good, old fashioned biology says they are.
A reasonable decision, to be sure. But the outcry against it is sure to be intense:
“Today’s ruling is a devastating slap in the face to transgender service members who have proved their fitness to serve and their dedication to this country,” NCLR legal director Shannon Minter said in a statement. “We will keep fighting this cruel and irrational policy, which serves no purpose other than to weaken the military and punish transgender service members for their patriotism and service.”
That the policy weakens the military is a unique argument. It's also illogical. And if transgender service members were truly patriotic - and I have no doubt they are - they would put the interests of the country and the military over their personal notions of gender identity.
The Obama era policy did not have anything whatsoever to do with the military. It was a social experiment that pandered to an important Democratic party interest group. That the administration recognized that and wants to change it should be applauded.