Trump administration asks Supreme Court to temporarily allow transgender military ban

The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to allow enforcement of a ban on transgender people serving in the military while it fights legal challenges to the new policy.

Solicitor General Noel Francisco filed two requests to Justice Elena Kagan and one request to Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday asking the court to stay injunctions that three lower courts put in place. The moves by those courts are preventing the administration from enforcing its transgender ban.

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The request come a couple of weeks after Francisco asked the Supreme Court to bypass an appeals court and review the rulings. He is now asking the court to put on hold rulings from courts in the Central District of California, Western District of Washington and District of Columbia.

“It is with great reluctance that we seek such emergency relief in this court,” he wrote Thursday in the almost-identical filings. “Unfortunately this case is part of a growing trend in which federal district courts, at the behest of particular plaintiffs, have issued nationwide injunctions, typically on a preliminary basis, against major policy initiatives.”

Francisco said such injunctions that were previously rare have become routine under Trump.

“In less than two years, federal courts have issued 25 of them, blocking a wide range of significant policies involving national security, national defense, immigration and domestic issues,” he wrote.

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisWhite House staggers after tumultuous 48 hours Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Trump insists Turkey wants cease-fire | Fighting continues in Syrian town | Pentagon chief headed to Mideast | Mattis responds to criticism from Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report: White House does damage control after Mulvaney remarks MORE announced the ban earlier this year.

Francisco said the government seeks a stay only if the court refuses to review the lower court rulings before the 9th Circuit and the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit weigh in. 

If the court agrees to review the rulings, Francisco said a stay isn’t needed because the justices are likely to issue their decision by the end of June.

“Because such a decision would potentially allow the military to begin implementing the Mattis policy in the reasonably near future, the government does not seek interim relief in the event the court grants certiorari before judgment,” he wrote.

Francisco said the court should at a minimum block the nationwide scope of the rulings.

It takes four justices to agree to hear a case and five justices to grant a stay request. Though Francisco submitted these requests to individual justices, they often get referred to the full court for review.

Francisco said Mattis announced the ban after an extensive review of military service by transgender individuals.

“In arriving at that new policy, Secretary Mattis and a panel of senior military leaders and other experts determined that the prior policy, adopted by Secretary Mattis’s predecessor, posed too great a risk to military effectiveness and lethality,” he said.

--Updated at 4:59 p.m.