Trump's two additions to the high court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, joined the other conservatives to advance the ban. The ruling is the latest saga for the ban, which was codified by a July 2017 tweet from Trump; an impulsive decision that overturned President Obama's decision to integrate trans troops the year before.
The new policy was immediately challenged in court, losing every time. Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis revised the ban so that trans service members are "grandfathered in" and won't be required to leave, but his policy would still bar trans recruits who expressed a desire to transition or were diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Those restrictions were on hold as the legal battles played out.
The Supreme Court's announcement today means trans recruits will likely be banned from entering the military while a final ruling on their service is decided.
"For the past two-and-a-half years, thousands of qualified, transgender individuals have made our nation's armed forces better, in every measurable quality, with their authentic service," OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Andy Blevins said in a statement.
"The Court's decision to allow the Trump-Pence Administration to institute their wanting and discriminatory practices while the litigation proceeds is disappointing -- our siblings-in-arms deserve better. We look forward to continuing our representation of these proud and selfless patriots, and reminding this Administration that military policy cannot be defined by baseless and discriminatory rationalizations."
The Justice Department and the Defense Department both issued statements about the high court's decision:
"We are pleased the Supreme Court granted stays in these cases," Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement, "clearing the way for the policy to go into effect while litigation continues. The Department of Defense has the authority to create and implement personnel policies it has determined are necessary to best defend our nation. Due to lower courts issuing nationwide injunctions, our military has been forced to maintain a prior policy that poses a risk to military effectiveness and lethality for over a year. We will continue to defend in the courts the authority and ability of the Pentagon to ensure the safety and security of the American people."
Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Carla Gleason said the following in a statement: "As always, we treat all transgender persons with respect and dignity. DoD’s proposed policy is NOT a ban on service by transgender persons. It is critical that DoD be permitted to implement personnel policies that it determines are necessary to ensure the most lethal and combat effective fighting force in the world. DoD’s proposed policy is based on professional military judgment and will ensure that the U.S. Armed Forces remain the most lethal and combat effective fighting force in the world."