OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced today that the previously scheduled federal court hearing on the constitutionality of President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military will go forward on Tuesday.
In December 2017, Judge Marsha Pechman of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington blocked the ban by granting an injunction because it would irreparably harm transgender individuals. Washington’s case, with co-plaintiffs represented by Lambda Legal, will be the first time any court has heard arguments on the merits of a case against the transgender military ban.
The Trump Administration claims the new Presidential Memorandum, Department of Defense report, and updated implementation plan by Secretary Mattis issued on Friday evening constitutes a new ban, separate from the one Judge Pechman and three other courts previously blocked. The Administration asked the court to cancel Tuesday’s hearing. The court declined.
“Banning transgender individuals from military service is discriminatory and wrong,” Ferguson said. “President Trump’s last-minute maneuvering does nothing to save his unlawful and discriminatory policy. Regardless of any efforts to confuse the issues and avoid judgment, the President’s transgender military ban is illegal.”
The motion for summary judgment will be heard by Judge Pechman in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on Tuesday at 10 a.m. The court will need to decide whether this weekend’s developments affect the Court’s ability to rule on the merits of the ban.
In July 2017, President Donald Trump announced a ban against transgender individuals over Twitter. One month later, he issued a Presidential Memorandum to the same effect.
Ferguson joined Lambda Legal and OutServe-SDLN in a case defending a group of transgender Washington residents who are currently serving in the military or who wish to join. Washington is home to nearly 33,000 transgender adults, some of whom are among Washington’s 60,000 active-duty military, reserve and National Guard members.
In total, four federal district court judges have granted injunctions against the ban.
The Trump Administration initially requested that the courts delay the injunctions, citing that its military branches were not prepared to accept transgender individuals. The Administration also filed multiple appeals of the injunctions.
The U.S. Department of Justice has since dropped its requests and appeals, or had its requests denied by the courts.
As a result of the federal court rulings, all branches of the U.S. military began accepting transgender recruits as of Jan. 1.
In addition to the case, Ferguson and 18 attorneys general sent a letter calling on members of the U.S. Armed Services Committee to stand with transgender military service members in July 2017.
Upholding transgender rights
Ferguson has been an advocate for transgender rights. He filed a “friend of the court” brief supporting transgender student Gavin Grimm, urged a federal court to reject efforts to block the government’s ability to protect the civil rights of transgender people, and led a multistate coalition urging the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide transgender veterans access to health care.
Wing Luke Civil Rights Unit Chief Colleen Melody and Assistant Attorney General La Rond Baker are handling the case for the state.
Ferguson created the Wing Luke Civil Rights Unit in 2015 to protect the rights of all Washington residents by enforcing state and federal anti-discrimination laws. Ferguson named the unit for Wing Luke, who served as an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Washington in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He went on to become the first person of color elected to the Seattle City Council and the first Asian-American elected to public office in the Pacific Northwest.
Ferguson has not lost a case brought against the Trump Administration. The Attorney General’s Office prevailed in all five cases against the Trump Administration that are completed and there are no more appeals. In addition, he is 4-0 in cases that have been or could be appealed.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; firstname.lastname@example.org