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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Supreme Court lifts injunctions on trans ban


Being passive to this executive action can’t be tolerated

On Jan. 22, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed President Donald Trump’s ban on most transgender people in the military to go forward while the legal challenges to the order continue to filter through the court system.

Essentially, the White House could potentially start implementing the ban quite soon since the Supreme Court has technically allowed it, even while appeals remain active.

Although this decision is not an official ruling, it sure feels like one. The ban has been on hold for about a year and a half due to multiple legal appeals and this new allowance feels like a stamp of approval from both our executive and judicial branch.

In July 2017, Trump informed the country through a tweet that transgender individuals cannot “serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”

In his tweet, Trump reasoned that “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

Not only is this ban outright discriminatory and offensive, the logic behind the ban stands on shaky grounds.

Last year, the chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps all testified in front of the members of Congress that there have been no reports of issues involving discipline, morale or cohesion while transgender people have been allowed to serve.

Illustration: Olivia Heisterkamp ’19/THE HAWK

The president need not speak of allowing transgender individuals into the military in the future tense. It currently is allowed and there seems to be no evidence to support his claims of “disruption.”

Almost immediately after the announcement of Trump’s ban, lawsuits arose–calling the ban a breach of our constitutional rights and discriminatory–which stalled the overall enforcement of the ban.

Now, with the new Supreme Court decision, the Trump administration can move forward decisively with its ban while the appeals cases move through the lower courts and up.

If the ban has been on hold for more than a year to ensure its constitutionality before implementation, why has a preliminary allowance been allowed to pass now? Why can it effectively bypass the complete judicial check on its legality?

An alarming pattern has been emerging, and we see the executive branch’s control slowly begin to overpower the judicial and legislative check on its power.

What has been our sacrifice during these shifting power dynamics? Our rights.

We cannot accept our rights as the stakes in this power game. Trump’s ban on transgender individuals in the military is unconstitutional, hateful and blatantly ignorant. We cannot passively accept it.

We as a nation also need to be concerned about the long-term consequences of not only denying a group of people their rights, but denying their rights along the bitter, partisan lines that have now seeped into the judicial branch.

Although the Supreme Court’s decision is not necessarily binding, it was ordered by a 5-4 vote. This split vote suspiciously mirrors partisan political disagreements.

The five justices who voted to reinstate  Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military were all nominated by Republican presidents. The remaining four dissenting justices were all nominated by Democratic presidents, now in the minority on the court.

The judicial branch is supposed to be non-partisan, which is why Supreme Court justices serve for life. Yet, this contentious order involving transgender rights–a topic that often plagues the political arena–appears to clearly reflect partisan lines.

If the highest court in the judicial system has become politicized, we as American citizens should be concerned. Future decisions that interpret American laws–that interpret our guaranteed rights from constitutional rights like the fourteenth amendment–should not be determined by political sentiments the justices hold.

Since the Supreme Court has momentarily allowed a ban on most transgender people serving in the military and has allowed this  on national partisan lines, our future protection of rights by an impartial judge will continue to be at risk.

Dangerous patterns are emerging in our government. If we sit passively crossing our fingers that another branch will balance the executive’s regressive political agenda, or that 2020 will offer a voice for the American people in time, then we are simply condoning the disintegration of American institutions and rights in the present.

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