#SCOTUS

SCOTUS Rules Trump Anti-Transgender Military Policy Can Take Effect Immediately

 

The U.S. Supreme Court has handed down orders that allow Donald Trump’s ban of transgender military service members to go into effect immediately while appeals work their way through the lower courts, according to The New York Times.

The high court issued a brief, unsigned order this morning saying SCOTUS had lifted the injunctions that, until now, blocked the anti-trans policy.

The vote was 5-4 with Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagen dissenting.

This morning’s orders stay the injunctions initially issued by Federal District Court judges in Washington State (Trump v. Karnoski) and California (Trump v Stockman), both in the Ninth Circuit.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit had previously vacated a third injunction on January 4.

For the time being, current trans soldiers will not be booted out immediately.

The policy, as tweaked by former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, allows transgender service members who are already serving openly to continue to do so and to receive transition-related care.

 

 

In July of 2017, President Trump surprised American military leaders and the world when he announced his plan to ban trans military service members after “consultation with my Generals and military experts” due to the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” of transgender service members. 

At the time of Trump's announcement, Staff Sgt. Logan Ireland (pictured above) told Air Force News, “I would like to see them try to kick me out of my military.”

“You are not going to deny me my right to serve my country when I am fully qualified and able and willing to give my life," he added.

The American Medical Association (AMA) issued a statement saying there is ‘no medically valid reason’ for banning transgender people from serving in the United States military, but all four service chiefs (Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force) have testified they’ve seen no negative effects from transgender military personnel serving the country they love.

According to a 2016 RAND Corporation study, there are an estimated 1,320 to 6,630 transgender individuals out of the 1.3 million service members on active duty.

From The New York Times:

The policy, announced on Twitter by President Trump and refined by the defense secretary at the time, Jim Mattis, generally prohibits people identifying with a gender different from their biological sex from military service. It makes exceptions for several hundred transgender people already serving openly and for those willing to serve “in their biological sex.”

 

Lambda Legal, which along with OutServe-SLDN, filed the lawsuit Trump v. Karnoski, issued this statement:

 

“The Supreme Court’s decisions today are perplexing to say the least: on the one hand denying the Trump administration’s premature request for review of lower court rulings before appellate courts have ruled and rebuffing the administration’s attempt to skirt established rules; and yet on the other allowing the administration to begin to discriminate, at least for now, as the litigation plays out,” Lambda Legal Counsel Peter Renn said.

“For more than 30 months, transgender troops have been serving our country openly with valor and distinction, but now the rug has been ripped out from under them, once again. We will redouble our efforts to send this discriminatory ban to the trash heap of history where it belongs.”

(h/t The New York Times)

Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg is Still Kicking

After fears that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85, had missed this week’s arguments, today we have learned that RBG is alive, healthy, and cancer free. The New York Times reports Justice Ginsburg is healing from her recent surgery.

Kathleen Arberg, spokesperson for the Supreme Court said:

Her recovery from surgery is on track. Post-surgery evaluation indicates no evidence of remaining disease, and no further treatment is required.

In December RBG had surgery to remove two nodules found on her left lung which put her out of commission for a while. She will be absent from the bench next week as well, but will be continuing to work from home. She was also dealing with rib fractures when she went in for surgery so her recovery will be extra important.

The Notorious R.B.G. has had two other cancer scares since her appointment onto SCOTUS in 1993.

It’s great to hear that she is doing well and on her road to recovery!

h/t: The New York Times

Trump Administration Wants SCOTUS To Allow Trans Military Ban NOW

The Department of Justice has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow Donald Trump’s ban on transgender military service members to go into effect while waiting on SCOTUS to decide whether or not to even take the case up for review.

Apparently, the United States is in a state of emergency regarding the few thousand transgender people currently serving with honor in the U.S. military.

I know - it doesn’t make any sense.

Let’s go back a bit, shall we?

In July of 2017, President Trump surprised American military leaders and the world when he announced his plan to ban trans military service members after “consultation with my Generals and military experts” due to the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” of transgender service members. 

Remember, this is the guy who told Americans during the 2016 presidential campaign that he would ‘fight’ for the LGBTQ community. 

Riiiiight.

Conservatives loved the idea; Liberals and LGBTQ activists were outraged.

In the ensuing months, numerous injunctions were ordered by judges blocking the implementation of the policy, and for good reason.

Not only has The American Medical Association (AMA) issued a statement saying there is ‘no medically valid reason’ for banning transgender people from serving in the United States military, but all four service chiefs (Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force) have testified they’ve seen no negative effects from transgender military personnel serving the country they love.

According to a 2016 RAND Corporation study, there are an estimated 1,320 to 6,630 transgender individuals out of the 1.3 million service members on active duty.

That same study estimated the cost of health care coverage for transgender personnel could range from $2.4 million and $8.4 million a year, which is about one-fifth of what the Department of Defense spent on Viagra in 2014.

Then, earlier this month, Department of Justice Attorney Brinton Lucas told the D.C. Circuit Court that if the Trump policy were to be implemented, transgender troops would not be “discharged on the basis of their transgender status.” 

(Wait for it…)

But, they would have to identify as the biological sex assigned to them at birth meaning they would have to stop any transition-related medical treatment - treatment that every major medical association has deemed necessary and life-saving for trans people.

Then, over Thanksgiving weekend, the Trump administration bypassed the appeals court process and requested the Supreme Court review the case before the circuit level courts even issue their opinions.

This isn’t a very popular approach as SCOTUS doesn’t like to review a case before it has made its way through the lower courts. 

The high court likes to have cases work their way through traditional channels so they have the benefit of the opinions of lower court judges by the time cases reaches SCOTUS.

This week, the Trump administration filed emergency briefs asking the high court to allow the transgender ban to go into effect until SCOTUS can review the case in 2019.

According to Think Progress, the emergency briefs claimed waiting any longer to boot transgender military service members poses “too great a risk to military effectiveness and lethality” and it would be “contrary to the Nation’s interests.”

But such arguments have gained little traction in the past. 

For example, U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal ruled in September that “loss of unit cohesion” was the same argument used to keep Black people, women, and gay people from joining the military. 

“The military has repeatedly proven its capacity to adapt and grow stronger specifically by the inclusion of these individuals,” wrote Bernal as he dismissed claims that including trans people would generate any different outcome.

It’s worth noting that the emergency briefs filed this week object to numerous motions for discovery filed in the cases. It seems the Trump administration wants to claim that all documentation related to how the ban was developed would fall under executive privilege.

What they really mean is that if those documents came to light, the American public might discover that Vice President Pence (a known homophobe) and his virulently anti-LGBTQ friends were instrumental in pushing the new ban through.

Should the Supreme Court allow the policy to be implemented before the case reaches SCOTUS, thousands of transgender soldiers could be discharged for being who they are.

This short video from the New York Times introduces just a few of the trans soldiers who are at risk of being discharged.

 

 

The opinions expressed here represent the author and not those of Instinct or its contributors.

(h/t ThinkProgress, Daily Beast)

(image via Flickr/photographer Ted Eytan)

Michelle Obama Snuck Out Of The White House For Marriage Equality Celebration

In her new memoir, Becoming, former First Lady Michelle Obama shares a touching episode from the day the U.S. Supreme Court declared marriage equality the law of the land.

The date was June 26, 2015.

Although she had just returned from a funeral service for the victims of the Charleston church shooting, she saw crowds gathering in front of the White House as evening fell.

From the window she could see a purple glow. The staff had arrange to illuminate the White House in rainbow lights in celebration of the landmark ruling by SCOTUS.

Seeing the energy of the people, she found she was "suddenly desperate to join the celebration."

After checking with her husband ("There are tons of people out there - you know I can't do tons of people!”), and her youngest daughter (who was engrossed in her iPad), Michelle recruited oldest daughter, Malia, for the adventure.

But the First Lady can’t just ‘walk out of the White House.’ 

From Becoming:

“Looking out the window, I saw that beyond the gates on Pennsylvania Avenue, a big crowd of people had gathered in the summer dusk to see the lights. The north drive was filled with government staff who’d stayed late to see the White House transformed in celebration of marriage equality. The decision had touched so many people.

"From where I stood, I could see the exuberance, but I could hear nothing. It was an odd part of our reality.

“We made our way down a marble staircase and over red carpets, around the busts of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin and past the kitchen until suddenly we were outdoors. Malia and I just busted past the agents on duty, neither one of us making eye contact.

"The humid summer air hit our faces. I could see fireflies blinking on the lawn. And there it was, the hum of the public, people whooping and celebrating outside the iron gates.

“It had taken us 10 minutes to get out of our own home, but we’d done it. We were outside, standing on a patch of lawn off to one side, out of sight of the public but with a beautiful, close-up view of the White House, lit up in pride.

"Malia and I leaned into each other, happy to have found our way there.”

Michelle shared the story on ELLEN yesterday with more details.

Like, the fact that a whole platoon of White House security started following her and Malia as they tried to slip out of the residence.

It means a lot that our First Lady wanted so badly to be a part of such a historic day for the LGBTQ community.

“Everybody was celebrating, people were crying, and I thought, I want to be in that," she told Ellen DeGeneres. "It was beautiful.”

Watch the appearance on ELLEN below.

 

 

Someone Bought BrettKavanaugh.com & Wait Until You See What's On There

Did you believe Ford of Kavanaugh? The usage of a lie detector and someone's lack of self-control aside, we are sure you have an opinion.

But if you want to know more about our newest Supreme Court Justice, do not go to  BrettKavanaugh.com looking for information.

CNN.com has stated that someone bought the domain and has turned it into a site dedicated to help survivors of sexual assault.
 
Is this a similar play on an internet address like whitehouse.com and whitehouse.gov?
 
Instead of a Kavanaugh bio or pearls of judicial wisdom, visitors to the site encounter a black-and-white photo of the Supreme Court building along with a simple message: "We Believe Survivors." Below are links to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, End Rape On Campus and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network -- all resources for survivors who are seeking assistance.  - cnn.com
 
So who decided to spend their money on this URL purchase?  Fix the Court, a nonpartisan judicial reform organization stepped up to the plate as their main goal is to fight for honesty and transparency on the US Supreme Court.
 
Pretty fast work, Fix the Court!  Well, actually it was fast work about three years ago when Kavanaugh's name was being tossed around as a possible nominee
    "In 2015, as the presidential races were going on, I decided to buy domains of possible candidates for the Supreme Court," Fix the Court Executive Director Gabe Roth told CNN. Fix the Court owns about two dozen domain names, including MerrickGarland.net and JudgeGorsuch.com.
    ...
    During Kavanaugh's ceremonial swearing-in at the White House on Monday, President Donald Trump apologized for "the terrible pain and suffering" he and his family were "forced to endure" during his confirmation process.
     
    Frustrated by Trump's comments, Roth decided to launch the site Tuesday as a way to put "a national focus on the issue of sexual assault." - cnn.com
     
    Roth hopes his website can help survivors while starting a conversation about making the Supreme Court confirmation process more transparent.
     
    What do you think of the website?  Good way to make people aware of such a travesty or is it liberals and democrats wasting money and not letting a loss go?

       
      h/t: CNN.com

      New Kavanaugh Accuser Comes Forward With Allegations Of 'Gang Rape'

      Major news outlets, including USA Today, are reporting on the deposition of Julie Swetnick, who has come forward accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of being involved in 'gang rapes' during the 1980s.

      She alleges she witnessed Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge 'spike' the punch at parties with alcohol and drugs to help drug girls and lower their inhibitions.

      In her sworn affidavit, Swetnick said these efforts by Kavanaugh and Judge were done so the girls “could then be ‘gang raped’ in a side room or bedroom by a ‘train’ of numerous boys.”

      “I have a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room. These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh,” Swetnick said.

      She not only saw the behavior at house parties during that time, but became a victim of one of those 'gang rapes.' She alleges Kavanaugh and Mark Judge were involved.

      According to her signed affidavit, she has witnesses to support her allegations.

      Swetnick is the client Michael Avenatti (who is also representing Trump accuser Stormy Daniels) has been referring to in his tweets of late.

       

       

      Swetnick is no slacker. She's held security clearances with the federal government in the Justice Department, State Department, Homeland Security and more.

      She is the third woman to come forward with allegations of sexual assault/misconduct regarding Brett Kavanaugh following Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez.

      According to CNN's Jim Acosta, Kavanaugh issued a statement regarding the new allegations: "This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone. I don’t know who this is and this never happened.”

      See the sworn affidavit below.

      (h/t USAToday)

      GOP Governors & Attorneys General Ask SCOTUS To Limit LGBT Workplace Protections

      Republican governors and attorneys general from 16 states have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that LGBT employees can be fired based merely on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

      The states that signed onto the friend-of-the-court brief are Nebraska, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming, Maine, Mississippi, and Kentucky.

      Currently, only 20 states plus Washington, D.C. have passed laws expressly banning LGBT discrimination in the workplace.

      A study by the Human Rights Campaign in 2011 showed 87% of voters erroneously believe its illegal under federal law to fire someone just for being LGBT.

      Its notable that Maine and Utah, two of the 20 states that have LGBT workplace protections in place, have signed on in support of the brief.

      The request to the Supreme Court comes in response to a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of a transgender funeral home employee in Michigan, Aimee Stephens, who was fired in 2013 after sharing with her supervisor she was transitioning.

      In 2017, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Harris Funeral Homes illegally discriminated against Stephens in firing her referencing Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which bans workplace discrimination based on sex.

      At the time, Judge Karen Nelson Moore of the 6th Circuit wrote in the opinion that anti-trans discrimination is inherently sex based.

      “[I]t is analytically impossible to fire an employee based on that employee’s status as a transgender person without being motivated, at least in part, by the employee’s sex,” she wrote. Businesses that discriminate against a worker on the basis of being “transgender or transitioning status,” is taking sex into account thus violating Title VII.

      Led by Nebraska Attorney General David Bydalek, the 16 states are asking SCOTUS to overturn that appeals court decision saying Congress didn’t intend for the ban on sex discrimination in Title VII to cover bias against lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender employees.

      “The States’ purpose is to note that ‘sex’ under the plain terms of Title VII does not mean anything other than biological status,” Bydalek wrote.

      The Supreme Court will decide this fall whether to take up the case.

      (h/t Bloomberg Law)

      BREAKING: Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh Nominated to the Supreme Court by Donald Trump

      Donald Trump just announced his nominee for new Supreme Court Justice. Brett M. Kavanaugh was announced during a White House presentation on July 9th. Kavanaugh, 53, is a federal appeals court judge and former aide to George W. Bush. Kavanaugh is a known advocate of ‘religious freedom’ and the appointment of this conservative will certainly galvanize voters before the midterm elections.

      Just as we reported about Trump’s potential SCOTUS picks, Kavanaugh will change the balance of controversial battles such as abortion, LGBTQ rights, and capital punishment. Kavanaugh’s nomination comes after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement at the age of 81 in June. Justice Kennedy was typically the swing vote on highly contentious issues.

      Kavanaugh still faces approval of the Senate, but if successfully appointed, it will be the first time in over 30 years that we have a conservative majority in the Supreme Court.

      This is Trump’s second nomination for the Supreme Court. Upon Antonin Scalia’s death in 2016, Trump selected Justice Neil M. Gorsuch as his successor. Gorsuch has voted similar to Scalia, which hadn’t impacted SCOTUS ruling very much according to The New York Times.

      With regard to LGBTQ rights, NBC reports:

      Kavanaugh was“promoted heavily by the Family Research Council in 2005” when he was initially nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. Circuit. The Family Research Council, like the Alliance Defending Freedom, has been designated an anti-LGBTQ “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center and is an outspoken opponent of LGBTQ rights, claiming homosexuality is “harmful” and “unnatural.” It is not clear, however, whether Kavanaugh agrees with the group’s anti-LGBTQ views.

      During his announcement, Trump said:

      Regarding one of the most profound responsibilities of the President of the United States… this is one of the most important decisions a President can make.

      Judge Kavanaugh has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law.

      He is a brilliant jurist with a clear and effective writing style, universally regarded as one of the finest and sharpest legal minds of our time.

      You can watch the announcement here:

      h/t: The New York TimesNBC

      Family Research Council's Tony Perkins Says "Game On" For Upcoming SCOTUS Pick

      Since the announcement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement, LGBTQ activists and advocates have expressed their deep concern about the community’s rights and protections being threatened by what will be a much more conservative successor.

      Over the weekend, in an interview with Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo, Trump said he was "putting conservative people" on the high court, but “probably not” ask beforehand how those nominees might vote on specific issues.

      What he didn’t say in his answer is he doesn’t have to ask. Trump has a pre-selected list of 25 candidates that have already been vetted by the ultra-conservative Federalist Society. It’s a foregone conclusion that all of them have been screened for far-right positions on the law.

      While its unlikely that marriage equality would ever be overturned in a wholesale manner, what many legal experts say consider possible is the Supreme Court handing down ‘carve outs’ in rulings regarding ‘religious liberty’ that would allow for legalized discrimination of LGBTQ people.

      This morning, hate group leader Tony Perkins, of the virulently anti-LGBTQ organization Family Research Council, made clear on Fox News exactly what his faction of conservatives are looking at in a new Supreme Court justice.

      “Given the fact that the left wants to make this all about abortion –  I think it’s much bigger, I think we have religious liberty, we’ve got freedom of speech, the First Amendment in the crosshairs of the left.

      “But they want to make it about life and if I were the president, I’d say, ‘Game on. I’m going to pick someone that’s beyond reproach.’ I think this supercharges the president’s base to get behind him in his pick and I think that spills over into the midterm election.”

      Even though Trump falsely campaigned on the premise he would be an “LGBT ally,” his actions since taking office have demonstrated exactly the opposite.

      Buzzfeed’s Dominic Holden has compiled a list of the many ways the Trump administration has worked against the LGBTQ community including:

       

      Reversed a federal policy that said transgender workers were protected from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

      • Argued that its legal to fire LGBTQ employees for being gay

      Supported Colorado baker Jack Phillips at the Supreme Court for turning away gay customers

      Withdrawn guidance that said Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 bans anti-transgender discrimination in federally funded schools

      • Proposed banning transgender service members in the U.S. military

      • Declined to appoint an LGBTQ liaison for the White House that would help communication between the administration and LGBTQ organizations and advocates

       

      This is clearly a time that we, as a community, have to stay woke. We have to stay vigilant. We have to be involved.

      And most importantly, we have to vote.

      This was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject. 

      Stephen Colbert: Justice Kennedy's Retirement Could Affect Marriage Equality

      Stephen Colbert used his opening monologue last night on The Late Show to lament the announcement that Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring from the Supreme Court.

      “If you’re on a low-carb diet, you’re in luck, because there ain’t no way to sugarcoat this,” Colbert began. “Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he’s retiring from the Supreme Court. I never thought I’d say this but you’re only 81. You know what they say, they say 81 is the new 79!" 

      "And don’t tell me your mind’s going. Because I’ve read Bush v. Gore and Citizens United, you never had one!”

      “Oh, we are supremely screwed,” the funny man continued. “I look forward to Wolf Blitzer in 2021, ‘In the end, this Supreme Court case will be decided by the swing vote, Justice Meat Loaf.'”

      He added: “The court that just this week crippled unions, upheld Trump’s Muslim ban and race-based gerrymandering might turn conservative. So enjoy your gay marriages now, because as of August 1st you’re back to being roommates.”

      Colbert offered his thoughts on who Donald Trump might nominate to replace Kennedy:  “I could see Trump appointing Giuliani just to keep him off television.”

      Colbert also took a few shots at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who told the press yesterday that Trump’s nominee “must be treated fairly.”

      “Oh really?,” said Colbert. “That’s like Typhoid Mary saying, ‘Read the sign, guys, all employees must wash hands.’”

      Watch the segment below.

       

       

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