The Supreme Court allowed President Donald Trump's transgender military ban to go into effect on Tuesday, dealing a blow to LGBT activists who call the ban cruel and irrational.
In an unsigned 5-4 order, the justices took no stance on the legality of the ban, first proposed in a surprise tweet by Trump in 2017, but Tuesday's action clears the way for it to take effect while lower courts hear additional arguments.
The four liberal justices objected to allowing the administration's policy banning most transgender people from serving in the military to go into effect.
The policy, first announced by the President in July 2017 via Twitter, and later officially releasedby then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis in 2018, blocks individuals who have been diagnosed with a condition known as gender dysphoria from serving with limited exceptions. It also specifies that individuals without the condition can serve, but only if they do so according to the sex they were assigned at birth.
In a statement released after the Supreme Court action, the Pentagon sought to clarify that its policy is not a ban on all transgender persons from the military.
"As always, we treat all transgender persons with respect and dignity. (The Department of Defense's) proposed policy is NOT a ban on service by transgender persons. It is critical that DoD be permitted to implement personnel policies that it determines are necessary to ensure the most lethal and combat effective fighting force in the world. DoD's proposed policy is based on professional military judgment and will ensure that the U.S. Armed Forces remain the most lethal and combat effective fighting force in the world," Lt. Col. Carla Gleason, a Pentagon spokesperson, told CNN.
In July 2017, Trump surprised military leaders by tweeting, "After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," Trump said. "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail."