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Trump transgender troop limits can take effect, top court decides

Published: Updated:

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday handed President Donald Trump a victory on his policy barring many transgender people from the military, allowing it to go into effect by lifting lower court rulings that had blocked the plan on constitutional grounds.

The decision, with the court’s five conservative justices prevailing over its four liberals, granted the Trump administration’s request to lift injunctions issued by federal judges against the policy while a challenge to its legality continues in lower courts. The liberal justices favored keeping the injunctions in place.

The justices, however, refused the administration’s request for them to decide the merits of the legal fight even before a California-based federal appeals court already considering the matter is given a chance to rule.

Attorneys representing transgender people already in the military or hoping to join condemned the court’s action.

“For more than 30 months, transgender troops have been serving our country openly with valor and distinction, but now the rug has been ripped out from under them, once again,” said Peter Renn, an attorney for Lambda Legal, which represents some of the plaintiffs.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said the Republican president’s “ban on trans Americans serving in our nation’s military was purpose-built to humiliate brave men & women seeking to serve their country,” adding that it was “deeply concerning” that the high court had allowed it to proceed.

Trump in 2017 announced a plan to ban transgender people from the military, moving to reverse a policy announced a year earlier under Democratic former President Barack Obama allowing them for the first time to serve openly and receive medical care to transition genders.

Trump, whose administration also has taken other steps to limit the rights of transgender Americans, cited the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” of having transgender troops.