Government Seeks Quick Ruling on Transgender Troops Case

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July 26, 2017: A supporter of LGBT rights holds up an "equality flag" on Capitol Hill in Washington, during an event supporting transgender members of the military. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
July 26, 2017: A supporter of LGBT rights holds up an "equality flag" on Capitol Hill in Washington, during an event supporting transgender members of the military. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to issue an unusually quick ruling on the Pentagon's policy of restricting military service by transgender people. It's the fourth time in recent months the administration has sought to bypass lower courts that have blocked some of its more controversial proposals and push the high court, with a conservative majority, to weigh in quickly on a divisive issue.

Earlier this month, the administration asked the high court to fast-track cases on the president's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields young immigrants from deportation. Administration officials also recently asked the high court to intervene to stop a trial in a climate change lawsuit, and in a lawsuit over the administration's decision to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 census.

In the military case, the administration has argued that the Supreme Court should step in before an appeals court rules because the case "involves an issue of imperative public importance: the authority of the U.S. military to determine who may serve in the Nation's armed forces."

In a statement, Peter Renn, an attorney for Lambda Legal, which brought one of the challenges to the transgender military policy, called the Trump administration's action Friday a "highly unusual step" that is "wildly premature and inappropriate."

The Pentagon initially lifted its ban on transgender troops serving openly in the military in 2016, under President Barack Obama's administration. But the Trump administration revisited that policy, with Trump ultimately issuing an order banning most transgender troops from serving in the military except under limited circumstances. Several lawsuits were filed over the administration's policy change, with lower courts all ruling against the Trump administration.

Still ongoing in lower courts are the census and climate change cases. The Supreme Court for now has refused to block the climate change trial. In the census question case, the court has agreed to decide what kind of evidence a trial judge can consider and indefinitely put off questioning of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. But it rejected an administration request to delay the trial and allowed other depositions to take place.

The court will hear arguments in the census question case in February. It's unclear when it will act on the administration's other requests.

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This article was written by Jessica Gresko and Mark Sherman from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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