The Supreme Court has decided to allow President Trump's restrictions on transgender people serving in the military to go into effect while the legal battle continues in lower courts. The injunction, announced in July 2017, barred all transgender people from military service, overturning a previous policy from the Obama era.
The high court's decision brought an end to injunctions nationwide. The court's five conservatives, including recent appointment Justice Kavanaugh, delivered the ruling.
Though officials are following the new policy, they state they have and always will treat transgender people with respect.
"As always, we treat all transgender persons with respect and dignity," Air Force Lt. Col. Carla Gleason, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said in statement that the Washington Post reported. "The Defense Department'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."
Controversy arose when former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis stopped the implementation of the Obama policy before it took effect in 2017, stating the Joint Chiefs of Staff needed more time for further study of the issue.
A few weeks later, Trump issued a memorandum criticizing the Obama administration handling of the policy, saying it allowed transgender people to serve without a proper reasoning. President Trump argued the policy would waste taxpayer money and cause division among units. He ordered General Mattis to establish a policy similar to the pre-Obama policy.
That so-called ban has been challenged in court since its implementation. The administration's policy does include exceptions, allowing the 900 transgender individuals already serving to continue to serve.
Before his departure, General Mattis still aligned with President Trump's view.
"By its very nature, military service requires sacrifice," Mattis said in the memo. "The men and women who serve voluntarily accept limitations on their personal liberties — freedom of speech, political activity, freedom of movement — in order to provide the military lethality and readiness necessary to ensure American citizens enjoy their personal freedoms to the fullest extent."
The fact that the Supreme Court has allowed the policy to remain in place while it's challenged in lower courts could signal that the ban may be upheld when the case eventually reaches the high court.