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US Government Asks High Court to Hear Transgender Military Case 


FILE - People rally to protest the Trump administration's reported proposal to narrow the definition of gender to male or female at birth, in Los Angeles, Oct. 22, 2018.

The Trump administration is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to issue an unusually quick ruling into the military’s policy of restricting military service by transgender people.

The administration Friday asked the Supreme Court to review lower court rulings blocking the military’s policy, seeking to bypass a federal appeals court currently considering the issue.

Except in rare cases, the Supreme Court usually waits to get involved in cases until both a trial and appeals court have ruled on the matter.

The Trump administration argued Friday that the Supreme Court should get involved in this case early because it “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.”

Administration officials say they want to ensure that the Supreme Court would be able to review the dispute before its term ends in June 2019.

Pentagon policy

The Pentagon changed its policy regarding transgender people in 2016, under then-President Barack Obama, allowing them serve openly in the military. But when President Donald Trump was elected, his administration reversed the policy and reinstated a ban on transgender troops.

Several courts ruled against that ban, leading the Trump administration to modify its policy, which now states that most transgender troops are banned from serving in the military except under limited circumstances.

Ruled unconstitutional twice

Lower courts have since ruled that the new administration policy is essentially the same as the original ban and is unconstitutional.

One of the lawsuits against the Pentagon policy has made its way to an appeals court, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court is a frequent target of criticism by Trump who tweeted just this week “the 9th Circuit is a complete & total disaster. It is out of control, has a horrible reputation, is overturned more than any Circuit in the Country, 79%, & is used to get an almost guaranteed result.”