An injunction blocking the Trump administration’s announced ban on transgender troops in the military remained active Tuesday, a federal judge said, contradicting officials who announced last week a plan to implement the new policy in April.
In a notice filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said administration officials “were incorrect in claiming that there was no longer an impediment to the military’s implementation” of the policy. She said a preliminary injunction issued in October 2017 that blocked changes to the military’s transgender policy remained in place.
The notice came days after acting Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist signed a memo implementing the ban, effective April 12, The Hill reported.
In a January ruling, the Supreme Court voted in favor of allowing the revised military transgender policy to take effect as court challenges of the ban continue. However, Kollar-Kotelly said Tuesday that ruling had no effect on her preliminary injunction, which was vacated in January in a yet-to-be-official ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Justice Department officials had argued that because of the January decision, they were free to implement the revised policy, BuzzFeed News reported. However, lawyers challenging the ban argued the court had yet to finalize the decision with a mandate, a step that wouldn’t come until after a deadline to file an appeal of the decision passes on March 29.
“We are grateful for the district court’s clarity in stating, unequivocally, that the injunction against the transgender military ban remains in place,” Jennifer Levi, an attorney for GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, a group representing the challengers, told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday.
A spokeswoman for the Pentagon told Reuters officials were consulting with the Justice Department, which declined to comment, on the next steps to take.
President Donald Trump announced on Twitter in July 2017 that transgender people would be barred from serving “in any capacity” in the U.S. military, changing former President Barack Obama’s policy allowing them to serve openly.
The Trump administration announced in March 2018 that it would bar transgender people from serving in the military but that, after further study, transgender people who serve “in their biological sex” without seeking to undergo gender reassignment surgery would be allowed to serve. The policy also has an exception for troops who began the process of changing their genders under Obama-era rules.
Military officials said last year that over 900 men and women have done so.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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