The Trump administration can’t avoid a lawsuit over a ban on military service by most transgender Americans, a judge ruled, dealing a blow to the policy seven months after the U.S. Supreme Court let it take effect.
Plaintiffs in one of several related lawsuits have an equal protection claim under the Constitution because the ban discriminates on the basis of transgender status rather than a medical condition, U.S. District Judge George Russell said in a ruling Tuesday in Maryland.
Russell dismissed other claims by the plaintiffs while allowing them to amend their complaint if they wish. The judge also dismissed several individual plaintiffs, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union, finding they can no longer sue because the February 2018 plan crafted by former defense secretary Jim Mattis was less restrictive than a blanket ban initially promised by President Donald Trump in a series of 2017 tweets.
The ruling means that transgender Americans who wish to serve openly in the military still have a chance to make their case at a trial.
“This is a victory for our clients who want the opportunity to serve their country openly and freely in our armed forces,” Josh Block, senior staff attorney for the ACLU, said in a statement. “We will continue to hold the government accountable for their attempts to ban trans people from the military and shut down judicial review of the policy.”
The case is Stone v. Trump, 17-cv-02459, U.S. District Court, District of Maryland.