The Trump administration is ready to move forward with its transgender military ban, but LGBTQ advocates say one impediment remains in place.
When the Supreme Court ruled in January that the ban could go into effect while lawsuits against it are heard by lower courts, it struck down two injunctions blocking the ban. However, two other injunctions remained. A federal judge in Maryland lifted one of them Thursday. But lawyers representing transgender military members say the fate of the other injunction is undecided.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in early January struck down an injunction issued by a district court judge in the case of Doe v. Trump, one of four suits challenging the ban, but it did not issue a signed ruling until Friday. Lawyers for the trans troops said they have 21 days after that to seek a review by the entire appeals court, known as an en banc review. But the Trump administration said the injunction is already lifted.
"The government is wrong," Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told the Washington Blade Friday, after the administration announced its plan to proceed with the ban. "The injunction remains in effect until the mandate [the final order] issues, and that clearly has not happened. The Court of Appeals has gone out of its way to give the plaintiffs an opportunity to seek rehearing en banc before the mandate issues and the injunction is dissolved."
The Department of Justice filed a legal brief Friday saying that in light of the Maryland judge lifting his injunction and the D.C. Appeals Court decision in January, "there is no longer any impediment to the military's implementation of the Mattis policy." Mattis is former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who last year crafted a memo outlining the administration's justifications for the ban, which Donald Trump originally announced via Twitter in 2017.
The brief also said Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan will issue a "directive-type memorandum" to implement the ban "in the near future." The memorandum will take effect 30 days after it is released.
The Blade sought further comment from the Justice and Defense departments late Friday, but they have so far not responded.