Donald Trump’s transgender military ban has been blocked because it ‘shocks the conscience’
A second federal judge has blocked President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.
District Judge Marvin J. Garbis ruled that the proposed prohibition was “egregiously offensive,” with no evidence to show it “was necessary for any legitimate national interest.”
Under the Maryland judge’s decision, trans troops who have scheduled transition-related medical care will be able to continue with their treatment with no deadline.
Trump stirred anger by announcing in July that he would impose a ban on transgender soldiers serving openly in the military.
Reversing a decision made under President Barack Obama, Trump claimed in a string of tweets that the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail”.
But federal judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly filed an injunction in Washington, DC blocking parts of the order last month, ruling that a lawsuit brought by five active soldiers with more than 60 combined years of service was likely to win.
And the new decision goes further, stopping the proposed ban on federal funds being used for gender reassignment surgery in the military.
The case, brought by the ACLU of Maryland on behalf of six soldiers, led District Judge Garbis to state that Trump’s ban “was not driven by genuine concerns regarding military efficacy.”
He said the proposal was a betrayal of trans troops who were already serving, and one which could not even “survive a rational review” in court.
“The lack of any justification for the abrupt policy change,” he wrote, “combined with the discriminatory impact to a group of our military service members who have served our country capably and honorably, cannot possibly constitute a legitimate governmental interest.”
He said that for Trump to remove constitutionally given freedoms from a group of individuals was “so egregious” and “so outrageous” as to “shock the conscience.”
Garbis tore into Trump’s inflammatory tweets specifically, writing that his sudden announcement “certainly can be considered shocking under the circumstances.”
He added: “A capricious, arbitrary, and unqualified tweet of new policy does not trump the methodical and systematic review by military stakeholders qualified to understand the ramifications of policy changes.”
In response, Justice Department spokeswoman Lauren Ehrsam said: “We disagree with the court’s ruling and are currently evaluating the next steps.”
The ACLU celebrated the ruling, calling it a triumph over “uninformed speculation, myths and stereotypes.”
ACLU staff attorney Joshua Block, who represented the service members, added: “Today is a victory for transgender service members across the country.
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“We’re pleased that the courts have stepped in to ensure that trans service members are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
The previous block on the ban was made by Judge Kollar-Kotelly, who wrote at the time: “The Court holds that Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their Fifth Amendment claim.
“As a form of government action that classifies people based on their gender identity, and disfavours a class of historically persecuted and politically powerless individuals, the President’s directives are subject to a fairly searching form of scrutiny.”
The judge added: “The effect of the Court’s Order is to revert to the status quo with regard to accession and retention that existed before the issuance of the Presidential Memorandum.”