Justices of the supreme court won’t hear arguments but block lower court orders making one of the most unpopular Presidents in US history's repeated push to ban trans people from openly serving in the armed forces.
The justices, voting 5-4 Tuesday, put on hold lower court decisions that had blocked the administration’s planned ban from taking effect. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented. Neither side provided any explanation.
The court stopped short of agreeing to hear arguments on an expedited basis, as the administration sought. But by letting the ban take effect, the court gave the administration a "major victory" and hinted the justices ultimately will uphold the restrictions.
Transgender troops have been serving openly since June 2016, when President Barack Obama’s administration began lifting a longstanding prohibition. Opponents of the ban say reinstating it would violate the Constitution’s equal protection clause.
Estimates vary of how many transgender people serve in the military. A 2016 Rand study estimated that between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender people were on active duty. The Mattis report said that since June 2016, about 900 people on active duty have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria -- the medical term for a conflict between one’s physical gender and the gender with which the person identifies.
The report also said that a 2016 survey of the military found that almost 9,000 people identified as transgender.