A second U.S. circuit court has denied the Trump administration’s request to delay a Jan. 1 deadline to allow transgender forces to serve, admonishing Justice Department lawyers on the merits of their arguments and reminding them that the young men and women at the heart of the case “seek to serve with honor and dignity,” and if necessary, give the ultimate sacrifice.
In addition, the D.C. Circuit Court ordered an expedited timeline in January to hear the remaining elements of the Trump administration ban on transgender service, including that currently serving transgender forces be allowed to remain in the military.
“We are grateful to the D.C. Court of Appeals for recognizing that our plaintiffs simply want to serve their country, and that there is no basis whatsoever for delaying the enlistment of qualified transgender applicants,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights legal director Shannon Minter, who represented clients in the D.C. Circuit Court case.
It’s the second rejection in the last two days of President Donald Trump’s directed military transgender ban that he tweeted out last July. Unless the Justice Department files and wins an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court in the next week, transgender personnel will be able to enlist in the military starting Jan. 1.
The Circuit Court said the Justice Department attorneys failed to prove that the Defense Department would be harmed by entry of transgender recruits and reminded the attorneys that transgender forces are already openly serving.
Last, the court said the attorneys failed to show that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis even seeks a delay to the Jan. 1 deadline. When previously asked by reporters, Mattis said he would wait to speak on the issue until the courts ruled.
“Nowhere in the filings or record before this court have appellants advised that Secretary Mattis actually desires to or, absent the district court injunction, would make a decision, wholly independent of the Presidential Memorandum or directive, to extend the January 1, 2018, deadline for accession,” the circuit court three-judge panel wrote.
Last, they reminded the attorneys that ultimately they were trying to prevent young adults from serving who were willing to risk the dangers of military service and give their lives for the country if necessary.
“It must be remembered that all Plaintiffs seek during this litigation is to serve their nation with honor and dignity, volunteering to face extreme hardships, to endure lengthy deployments and separation from family and friends, and to willingly make the ultimate sacrifice of their lives if necessary to protect the nation, the people of the United States, and the Constitution against all who would attack them,” the D.C. Circuit Court said in its decision.
Tara Copp is a Pentagon correspondent for the Associated Press. She was previously Pentagon bureau chief for Sightline Media Group.