Government asks justices to intervene in dispute over transgender service members

Transgender U.S. army captain Jennifer Sims lifts her uniform

"As Americans come together and give thanks for the sacrifices made by our fearless service members and their families, the Trump-Pence administration is focused on undermining our military by tripling down on this discriminatory ban", said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, which brought one of the successful suits against the ban.

The administration Friday asked the Supreme Court to review lower court rulings blocking the military's policy, seeking to bypass a federal appeals court now considering the issue.

"The United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US Military".

The ninth USA circuit court of appeals, a frequent target of criticism by Trump, is involved in three of the cases.

In the briefs filed yesterday, USA solicitor general Noel Francisco explained that the dispute requires the justices' immediate attention because the "prior policy" of allowing transgender individuals to serve "posed too great a risk to military effectiveness and lethality": The government can't afford to keep the old policy in place for a year while it waits for the courts of appeals to issue their rulings and then appeals to the Supreme Court. Lower courts have issued injunctions on the issue but not yet delivered rulings. Three lower courts had previously prohibited the government from implementing the measure.

Normally, the Supreme Court waits to take action until regional appeals courts have ruled.

In March Mr Trump said that he supported a plan by Jim Mattis, the defence secretary, to restrict the service of transgender people with gender dysphoria, a condition characterised by "clinically significant distress".

"Francisco added that "[Defense] Secretary [Jim] Mattis and a panel of senior military leaders and other experts determined that the prior policy. posed too great a risk to military effectiveness and lethality".

Administration officials say they want to ensure that the Supreme Court would be able to review the dispute before its term ends in June 2019. Several lawsuits were filed, with lower courts all ruling against the Trump administration.

The solicitor general reiterated past claims from the Trump administration on the matter, contending the ban would bolster the USA military's effectiveness and preparedness. The Supreme Court denied that request. "The injunctions preserve the status quo of the open service policy that was thoroughly vetted by the military itself and has been in place now for more than two years".



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