US President Donald Trump wants the Supreme Court to immediately weigh in on his ban on transgender people in the military, sparking concerns about legal procedure and alarming rights organizations.
Lower courts have so far largely ruled against Trump, keeping his plan on ice, accepting arguments that the ban is based on discrimination and not on military effectiveness.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco is asking the top court to consolidate three cases in the lower courts and rule within its current term, which runs through June, according to documents filed Friday.
Normally the top court does not weigh in on cases until they work their way through the lower ranks of the judiciary.
The move by the administration comes in the same week that Trump got into a war of words with the court’s chief justice, John Roberts. It is extremely rare for the head of the top court to rebuke a president.
Trump has accused judges of endangering national security.
During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump pledged to be an ally to the LGBT community.
But he has since revealed numerous policies aimed at that community. He announced his ban on transgender people serving in the military via Twitter in 2017.
The announcement was followed in March with a formal policy after Defence Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen concluded that people with gender dysphoria “present considerable risk to military effectiveness and lethality.”
The leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said late on Friday that “the president’s ban is a cruel and arbitrary decision designed to humiliate transgender Americans who have stepped forward to serve our country.”
The proposed ban “weakens our military readiness and our country, and shows this president’s stunning lack of loyalty to those who risk all to defend our freedoms,” her statement said.
In June, the Pentagon held a pride event to recognize the contributions of LGBT service members, with veteran Anthony Brown calling on the Supreme Court to reject Trump’s ban and others like it.
“It’s important that President Trump gives transgender servicemen, transgender Americans, the same rights as any other person,” the Maryland congressman said.
“It seems the Trump administration can’t wait to discriminate,” said Lambda Legal on Friday, a civil rights group that filed one of the original motions against the ban.
It was also sharply critical of the White House for seeking to leapfrog normal legal procedures.
Trump has appointed two judges to the Supreme Court, shifting the balance on the top judicial body in a conservative direction that potentially could favour the White House’s views.