Two Appeals Courts Reject Pleas to Delay Trans Enlistment

DC Court of Appeals

Two federal appeals courts in two days have declined the Trump administration’s requests to delay enlistment of transgender troops past January 1.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Friday denied the administration’s request to stay U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly’s order that the military allow qualified transgender people to enlist beginning that date.

Kollar-Kotelly was the first judge to issue a preliminary injunction against Donald Trump’s transgender military ban, blocking it from going into effect while lawsuits proceed, in the case of Doe v. Trump. Two others have followed.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit Thursday denied the administration’s request for a stay as well. It came in Stone v. Trump, in which U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis issued a preliminary injunction against the ban. U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman this month became the third judge to issue such an injunction.

In Friday’s ruling, three judges of the D.C. Court of Appeals pointed out that trans people are already serving in the military and that delaying enlistments “would deprive the military of skilled and talented troops” and “be counter to the public interest.”

They also wrote, “Finally, in the balancing of equities, it must be remembered that all Plaintiffs seek during this litigation is to serve their Nation with honor and dignity, volunteering to face extreme hardships, to endure lengthy deployments and separation from family and friends, and to willingly make the ultimate sacrifice of their lives if necessary to protect the Nation, the people of the United States, and the Constitution against all who would attack them.”

“There is no justification for any more delay,” Jennifer Levi, Transgender Rights Project director at GLBTQ Advocates and Defenders, said in a press release. Her group, along with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, is representing trans troops in Doe v. Trump. “The military is ready, the country is ready, and the courts have weighed in. Qualified transgender people are ready to sign up and risk their lives in defense of the nation. Our country needs them. It’s time to let them serve.”

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