A federal appeals court in Washington on Friday lifted a nationwide injunction that blocked a Trump administration policy barring transgender service members from serving in the military.
A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in a per curiam order found “clear error” in a district court injunction blocking implementation of the policy. The panel did not rule on the merits of the case, but faulted the lower court’s finding that the policy, known as the Mattis Plan, was the “equivalent of a blanket ban on transgender service.”
The judges said the record showed that some transgender people were permitted to serve.
Despite Friday’s order, the military policy will not immediately go into effect since it’s still subject to other nationwide injunctions. The U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t yet ruled on a Justice Department request seeking to allow immediate enforcement of the policy.
The D.C. Circuit appeal came from a case handled by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who has rejected Justice Department requests to dissolve her injunction.
The panel’s five-page order said the lower court “erred” in finding that the Mattis Plan was largely a continuation the Trump administration’s initial 2017 transgender ban.
“[W]e must recognize that the Mattis Plan plausibly relies upon the ‘considered professional judgment’ of ‘appropriate military officials,’ Goldman, 475 U.S. at 509, and appears to permit some transgender individuals to serve in the military consistent with established military mental health, physical health, and sex-based standards,” the panel said.
Judges Thomas Griffith, Robert Wilkins and Stephen Williams were on the panel. Williams concurred in the result, and separate opinions are expected to be filed at a later date.
Read the D.C. Circuit ruling here: