Judge Orders Government to Produce Documents Related to Development of Trans Military Ban Implementation Plan
August 24, 2018
Washington, D.C. – Federal District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly today issued a ruling ordering the Trump administration to disclose information about its decision to ban otherwise qualified transgender troops from military service in Doe v. Trump, GLAD and NCLR’s case challenging the Trump administration’s transgender military ban.
Judge Kollar-Kotelly also denied both parties’ motions for full resolution of the case. In her ruling, Judge Kollar-Kotelly said that the government has improperly refused to produce documents related to its decision to reverse existing policy and exclude transgender people from military service.
The court held: “Plaintiffs are entitled to complete discovery. . . . [D]espite the fact that one of Defendants’ main defenses in this action is that their decisions regarding transgender military service are owed great deference because they are the product of reasoned deliberation, study and review by the military, Defendants have withheld nearly all information concerning this alleged deliberation. This is not how civil litigation works. Defendants cannot prevent Plaintiffs from obtaining the facts about a disputed issue and then expect to be granted summary judgment on that issue.”
“The court said that the government can’t continue to stonewall by refusing to disclose basic information about why it suddenly reversed military policy that permitted open service by transgender people,” said Jennifer Levi, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) Transgender Rights Project Director.
“This is the third court to rule that the government must produce documents to justify its decision to exclude otherwise qualified transgender people from military service,” said Shannon Minter, National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Legal Director. “This administration is not above the law. Today’s ruling once again confirms that the government must obey the same rules applied to other litigants in our nation’s courts.”
Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s October 2017 preliminary injunction blocking the ban from taking effect remains in place.
Three other legal challenges to the ban are also proceeding, including GLAD and NCLR’s second case, Stockman v. Trump.
June 30, 2016: The United States Department of Defense (DOD) adopted a policy permitting transgender people to serve in the military based on a nearly two year DOD review determining that there was no valid reason to exclude qualified personnel from military service simply because they are transgender.
July 26, 2017: President Trump tweeted that “the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”
August 9, 2017: NCLR and GLAD filed Doe v. Trump, the first lawsuit filed to stop the ban, challenging its constitutionality and requesting that the court issue a nationwide preliminary injunction to stop it from taking effect while the case is being heard in court.
August 25, 2017: President Trump issued a memorandum ordering Secretary of Defense James Mattis to submit “a plan for implementing” the ban by February 21, 2018. Secretary Mattis delivered this (the “Mattis Plan” and panel report) to President Trump on February 22, 2018.
October 30, 2017: The United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that Doe v. Trump plaintiffs had established a likelihood of success on their claim that President Trump’s ban violates equal protection, that plaintiffs would be irreparably harmed without a preliminary injunction to stop the ban, and that the public interest and balance of hardships weighed in favor of granting injunctive relief and temporarily halting the ban while the case is heard by the court.
March 23, 2018: President Trump accepts the “Mattis Plan” and issues a memorandum in which he “revoked” his August 25 Memorandum.
April 20, 2018: Defendants file a motion to dissolve the October 30 nationwide preliminary injunction enjoining the transgender military ban issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia; a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint; and a Motion for Summary Judgment.
May 11, 2018: Plaintiffs file their cross-motion for summary judgment, as well as motions in opposition to Defendant’s motions to dissolve the injunction and dismiss Plaintiffs’ complaint.
August 6, 2018: Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly denies Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss and Motion to Dissolve the Preliminary Injunction
August 24, 2018: Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly orders the government to comply with discovery obligations and denies Defendants’ and Plaintiffs’ cross-motions for summary judgment.
NCLR and GLAD have been at the center of the legal fight challenging the Trump-Pence transgender military ban since filing Doe v. Trump, the first of four cases filed against the ban, on August 9, 2017.
For more information, go to NCLR and GLAD’s website https://notransmilitaryban.org/.
Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders works in New England and nationally to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation. www.GLAD.org
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. www.NCLRights.org