Federal courts are considering blocking President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban and lawyers for the Trump administration are arguing it’s way too early — the Pentagon hasn’t even finalized the details.
"That challenge is premature several times over," according to a brief submitted in U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, by the Justice Department.
Multiple transgender soldiers have sued Trump and top military officials to repeal the ban.
Although Trump called the ban a manner of strengthening the military, the lawyers aren’t arguing the validity of their case.
It’s just too early, they say.
"No actual discharge or denial of accession has occurred, and they will not suffer a hardship if the Court withholds consideration until after the policies challenged in this case are implemented and are found to impact Plaintiffs," the Justice Department lawyers representing Trump and military brass wrote in their 44-page brief.
They also called for an immediate dismissal: "The Court should therefore dismiss this case for lack of jurisdiction."
Transgender soldiers were given the green light to come out (no more Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) and enlist after a 2016 edict from the Pentagon. In July, Trump tweeted that the government would not allow transgender people to enlist in the military citing “tremendous medical costs.”
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
A month later, Trump issued a memo saying that as Commander in Chief, he rules transgender individuals are to be treated as they were prior to the Obama administration. Trump blamed his predecessor for not providing “a sufficient basis to conclude that the Departments’ longstanding policy would not hinder military effectiveness” among other things.
Defense Secretary James Mattis issued interim guidance that allows transgender people to serve until the ban is implemented in 2018.
Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked by Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in September whether he agreed that the thousands of transgender men and women now in the military have served with honor and valor.
"I do, Senator," Dunford responded, Reuters reported. "I would just probably say that I believe any individual who meets the physical and mental standards, and is worldwide-deployable and is currently serving, should be afforded the opportunity to continue to serve."
Six transgender soldiers have sued to repeal the policy arguing that they have already suffered. Some soldiers say medical treatments have been canceled and their careers are in jeopardy, Buzzfeed reported.
According to a motion in August, one of the plaintiffs "was scheduled to undergo surgery in September of this year, but as a result of the directive, her medical treatment has been halted."
The government lawyers argue transgender soldiers have not suffered.
"The speculative harms that Plaintiffs believe may occur in the future, once the policy is formulated and implemented, cannot be redressed by the Court’s equitable powers at this stage," the Justice Department maintains.