Dems to Mattis: Don’t comply with Trump’s ‘unconstitutional’ transgender ban

Keren Carrion

More than 50 House Democrats are urging the Pentagon not to comply with President Trump’s “unconstitutional” ban on transgender troops.

“As members of Congress with an abiding interest in our nation’s military and its policies towards the LGBTQ community, we write to not only express our strong opposition to President Trump’s recent tweets seeking to ban transgender individuals from the military, but to remind you not to comply with any unconstitutional directive which may ultimately be issued,” the 53 lawmakers wrote to Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford in a letter Friday.

The letter was organized by the top Democrats on the House Armed Services and Judiciary committees, Reps. Adam Smith (Wash.) and John Conyers Jr. (Mich.), respectively. Signatories hail from those committees, as well as the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.

Last week, Trump announced on Twitter that he would ban transgender people from serving in the military.

A day later, Dunford advised the military that the Pentagon will not take any action until Trump sends over an official directive.

The Pentagon said this week that it has received no such directive, but that the White House has begun reaching out to draft one.

In their letter, the Democrats wrote that federal courts have ruled that transgender people are protected under the Constitution from discrimination on the basis of sex, as well as that military policy can be ruled unconstitutional particularly when it did not arise from the “combined wisdom” of a congressional and executive branch review.

As such, there are a number of reasons banning transgender people would “not only constitute poor policy, but would be unconstitutional on its face,” they said.

For one, they wrote, the ban would be the result of “arbitrary and capriciously issued” tweets, not a thoughtful deliberative process. By contrast, they added, the existing policy allowing open service was developed in consultation with military leadership and after reviewing all available data.

“As the respected leaders of our brave armed service members, you have no obligation to implement a hastily considered tweet designed to serve as a ‘wedge’ political issue; but rather you should honor your own independent duty to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” the lawmakers wrote.

“We believe any serious or credible review of the law and the facts in the present case make it clear that the president’s proposed ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces will weaken, not strengthen our military, and is blatantly unconstitutional.”

Tags Adam Smith James Mattis
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