Trump Ramps Up Effort to Block Americans Seeking Exemption From Military Trans Ban

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. government is ramping up efforts to block a small group of Americans seeking exemptions from President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.

Five current and aspiring service members who filed one of several lawsuits against the ban have argued that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month -- which allows the restrictions to be implemented while the cases are litigated -- shouldn’t apply to them.

The high court overturned two national injunctions by federal judges and declined to make an exception for the plaintiffs in those cases, the Justice Department said in a Feb. 13 filing in Baltimore, where a national injunction against the ban remains in effect -- for now.

“When the Supreme Court stayed each injunction in its entirety, it necessarily rejected the option of leaving each injunction in place as to the individual plaintiffs,” the Justice Department said. “The government respectfully requests that this court immediately stay the preliminary injunction, in its entirety.”

Three of the plaintiffs have undergone gender-transition surgery and fear they won’t be permitted to join the military if the injunction is stayed, while two others argue they may not be able to commission as officers. Plaintiffs in all the cases argue the ban is unconstitutional.

“The government’s opposition to this extremely narrow request shows just how extreme their position has become,” Joshua Block, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the group, said in a statement. “As a matter of basic fairness, if someone is already in the middle of the application process and has shown that they can meet all the necessary standards, they should be allowed to serve their country.”

Trump’s 5-4 Supreme Court victory over two sets of plaintiffs didn’t involve the case in Maryland. Immediately after the ruling, the government asked U.S. District Judge George Russell in Baltimore to lift his injunction, but so far he hasn’t ruled.

The Defense Department said earlier this month that it can’t say how or when the military will start implementing Trump’s ban until Russell issues his decision.

Trump promised in a series of tweets in July 2017 to bar transgender Americans from serving in the military “in any capacity,” citing threats to troop readiness and morale, as well as costs associated with transgender medical services. That reversed the policy of former president Barack Obama, who moved to allow transgender soldiers to serve.

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