A federal appeals court has rejected a request to implement the transgender military ban while it’s working its way through the federal court system.
Judge Marsha Pechman in Washington state is hearing Karnoski v. Trump, one of the four challenges to Donald Trump’s transgender military ban.
Last December she issued an injunction against the ban, which means that it would not be implemented before the trial could take place. Earlier this year, Pechman refused to lift the injunction when Trump’s lawyers argued that he had issued a “new” ban – she said that the new ban was the same policy as the old ban.
Now a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit refused to lift the injunction. The ruling says that lifting the injunction – allowing the Trump Administration to implement its transgender military ban – would be altering the status quo before the trial is concluded.
“The district court’s December 11, 2017 preliminary injunction preserves the status quo, allowing transgender service members to serve in the military in their preferred gender and receive transition-related care,” the decision said.
“Appellants ask this court to stay the preliminary injunction, pending the outcome of this appeal, in order to implement a new policy. Accordingly, a stay of the preliminary injunction would upend, rather than preserve, the status quo.”
The Washington Blade reports that this means that the Trump Administration could go to the Supreme Court to lift the injunction before Justice Anthony Kennedy retires. Kennedy will be on the bench for another month – if he doesn’t rule on the injunction, then the eight remaining justices will hear the appeal.
Five votes to lift the injunction would be necessary. Kennedy has been a friend to LGBTQ cases in the past, and an eight-judge Supreme Court would need one of the liberal judges to vote to lift the injunction to get five votes, which is unlikely.
HRC hailed the ruling.
“After a string of victories for transgender troops and enlistees at the district court level, this appeals court ruling reinforces that there is simply no need or legitimate reason to bar capable and willing transgender Americans from serving their country,” said HRC’s Sarah McBride.