MARYLAND — A federal judge yesterday rejected the Trump Administration’s effort to shield information it used to implement a ban on transgender people in the military. Stone v. Trump is the ACLU's lawsuit on behalf of a dozen transgender individuals currently serving or wanting to serve in the armed forces. In rejecting the Trump Administration’s attempt to shield these materials from review, United States Magistrate Judge A. David Copperthite stated that the documents were relevant to the Trump Administration’s intent and “ whether [the ban] was for military purposes or whether it was purely for political and discriminatory purposes—is at the very heart of this litigation.”
“President Trump banned transgender people from serving in the military and then ordered the Department of Defense to come up with pretext to justify that discriminatory decision,” Joshua Block, senior staff attorney with the LGBT & HIV Project. “This decision makes clear that the Trump Administration cannot continue to hide the true reasons behind its crusade to purge transgender people from the military. These brave men and women should be able to continue serving their country ably and honorably without being discriminated against by their own commander in chief.”
Under the court’s order, Defendants must produce the following categories of documents:
1) Deliberative materials regarding the President’s July 2017 tweets and August 2017 Memorandum.
2) Deliberative materials regarding DoD’s so-called panel of experts and its working groups tasked with developing a plan to study and implement the President’s decision.
3) Deliberative materials regarding DoD’s implementation plan and the President’s acceptance of the plan, including any participation or interference in that process by anti-transgender activists and lobbyists.
“We see the court ruling today as a decisive ‘NO’ to President Trump’s attempt to hide the fact that his decision to ban transgender service members was made based on discriminatory whim,” said Dana Vickers Shelley, Executive Director for the ACLU of Maryland. “We stand with the thousands of transgender people who already serve or who wish to serve in the military, but who are being blocked by this senseless discrimination.”
The lawsuit was filed on August 28, 2017 on behalf of the ACLU of Maryland and six current members of the armed forces who are transgender: Petty Officer First Class Brock Stone, Staff Sergeant Kate Cole, Staff Sergeant John Doe 1, Airman First Class Seven Ero George, Petty Officer First Class Teagan Gilbert, and Technical Sergeant Tommie Parker. Six additional plaintiffs, who are prospective service members, joined the lawsuit on April 27, 2018.
In the lawsuit, the ACLU argues that the ban violates the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and substantive due process by singling out transgender individuals for unequal and discriminatory treatment. The lawsuit argues that the ban discriminates based on sex and transgender status and that the ban is based on uninformed speculation, myths and stereotypes, moral disapproval, and a bare desire to harm this already vulnerable group.
The plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU, the ACLU of Maryland, and Covington & Burling LLP.
The order is available here: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/stone-v-trump-memorandum-opinion
More information on Stone v. Trump is available here: https://www.aclu.org/cases/stone-v-trump