The Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court to allow a ban on transgender people in the military to temporarily go into effect while court cases challenging the plan make their way through the legal system.
U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco filed a brief Thursday night asking that if the Supreme Court doesn’t take up cases surrounding the ban during its current term, that it be allowed to immediately go into effect while the lower courts determine how to proceed. He asked the court to consider the brief by early January.
“It is with great reluctance that we seek such emergency relief in this court,” Francisco wrote Thursday in regards to one of those court challenges, according to The Hill. “Unfortunately this case is part of a growing trend in which federal district courts, at the behest of particular plaintiffs, have issued nationwide injunctions, typically on a preliminary basis, against major policy initiatives.”
The ban was initially proposed by President Donald Trump last July via Twitter, who said transgender people created “tremendous medical costs and disruption” in the armed services, a reversal after former President Barack Obama allowed them to serve openly.
Four lower courts have blocked the rollout of the ban, issuing temporary injunctions amid challenges from civil rights organizations. Thousands of transgender troops have continued to serve as the cases make their way through the court system, according to the Washington Post.
Francisco has argued that allowing transgender people to serve would be “too great a risk to military effectiveness and lethality.” The website SCOTUSblog notes that the solicitor general said without Supreme Court intervention it could be “at least another year and likely well into 2020″ before the ban could go into effect.
″[That’s] a period too long for the military to be forced to maintain a policy that it has determined, in its professional judgment, to be contrary to the national interest,” he wrote.
In a federal appeals court earlier this month, the Trump administration also argued that it was “truly extraordinary” that judges had blocked the new policy.
The Trump administration last month asked the Supreme Court to fast-track the case before appeals can make their way through the federal court system, saying it was “an issue of imperative public importance.”
Supreme Court rules state that it will only take a case that has yet to go through the federal appeals court circuit if it has such a level of “imperative” importance “to justify deviation from normal appellate practice and to require immediate determination in this court,” The New York Times reports.
The proposal to fast-track the court process was slammed by civil rights groups last month.
“This highly unusual step is wildly premature and inappropriate,” Peter Renn, a lawyer with the group Lambda Legal, said in a statement. “Yet again, the Trump administration flouts established norms and procedures. There is no valid reason to jump the line now and seek U.S. Supreme Court review before the appellate courts have even ruled on the preliminary issues before them.”