The Pentagon and Justice Department are not doing enough to defend and implement President Trump’s order banning transgender citizens from serving in the military, a top conservative defense analyst charged Tuesday.
Elaine Donnelly, president for the Michigan-based Center for Military Readiness, said recent federal court rulings mandating the Pentagon begin accepting openly transgender recruits while the legal battle over the order proceeds undercuts the military’s authority to set national security policy and hands that role to the judiciary.
The failure to aggressively fight federal district court rulings has “tacitly conceded that federal judges can make military policy and establish medical standards for enlistments,” Ms. Donnellysaid Tuesday.
The Justice Department’s failure to call for an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court challenging the rulings suggests department officials do not have an adequate “strategy to fight on principle and win” regarding President Trump’s policy to ban all transgender troops from the U.S. military, she added.
Ms. Donnelly’s criticisms came on the same day Mr. Trump himself suggested a “deep state” opposition within the Justice Department was the reason the government had not vigorously prosecuted new revelations related to the Hillary Clinton email scandal.
Defense Department gave the green light in December to allow transgender applicants to enlist into the armed forces, despite Mr. Trump’s summer announcement — also via Twitter — that transgender individuals would be barred from military service.
Transgender recruits will be allowed to enlist beginning Jan. 1 but will be subjected to a slew of physical, psychological and medical requirements before being considered for military service, Pentagon spokesman Maj. David Eastburn said Monday.
“Due to the complexity of this new medical standard, trained medical officers will perform a medical pre-screen of transgender applicants for military service who otherwise meet all applicable applicant standards,” Maj. Eastburn told the Associated Press.
The new standards for transgender enlistment include certification that a recruit has been deemed “clinically stable” in their preferred sex for 18 months, and does not suffer from marked stress or impairment tied to their selected gender during certain scenarios tied to military service.
The Defense Department is still evaluating the overall impact transgendered individuals serving in the military would have on the various services.
Four lower-court judges and two courts of appeals have ruled the White House’s ban unconstitutional. Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter formally lifted the ban on transgender citizens serving openly in the U.S. military last year. Under that policy shift, transgender applicants would have been able to enlist into the services by July.
Ms. Donnelly said both the Defense and Justice Departments should be far more forceful in implementing Mr. Trump’s policy shift, instead of waiting for the courts to rule and the study groups to report.
The Justice Department’s “reported strategy might be plausible IF the Defense Department ‘study’ in question were truly fact-based and objective and IF the [Pentagon] had taken steps to provide conditional enlistment contracts with transgender personnel who are recruited under the force of federal court orders. Neither expectation has been met,” she wrote.