In an early indication of just how divided the United States Supreme Court has become under Donald Trump, the justices voted along ideological lines Tuesday to allow the Trump administration to go ahead with a ban on transgender troops in the military — even though the court has not yet heard a case challenging the ban which began with a series of Trump Twitter posts on July 26, 2017.
After four lower courts had ruled that injunctions against implementing the transgender troop ban should stay in place until a final Supreme Court decision comes down, the United States District Court in Washington, D.C. — the final stop before a case reached SCOTUS — decided on January 4, according to USA Today, that the injunctions should be lifted and the Pentagon allowed to go ahead with the ban.
The ban policy as currently written allows transgender troops to remain in the military as long as they serve as a member of the gender with which they were born and do not seek surgery to switch genders. Because the restriction is not a “blanket ban,” the D.C. court ruled that the ban could go forward.
The five conservative justices on the Supreme Court — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. along with Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch, and Brett M. Kavanaugh — agreed. The court’s four liberal justices — Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan — all voted to stop the ban from taking effect as the court decides the case, according to the Washington Post.
That the court is even considering the case at this point is unusual because the lower courts have not ruled on the constitutionality of the transgender ban. But Trump administration Solicitor General Noel Francisco went straight to the Supreme Court in November, the Hill reported, telling the justices that a quick decision on their part was “necessary to place the Department of Defense in the strongest position to protect the American people.”
The ban appeared to come out of nowhere on July 26, 2017, when early that morning, Trump posted on Twitter.
“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. 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. Thank you.”
A Defense Department study by the Rand Corporation in 2016 concluded that medical costs for transgender troops range no higher than $8.4 million per year — a minuscule amount in a military budget totaling approximately $600 billion.
For comparison, the military in 2014 spent about 10 times as much, $84 million, on Viagra or other erectile dysfunction medications for military personnel, as Inquisitr reported.