Last summer, the current White House occupant tweeted that the government would not allow “transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.” This decision was clearly aimed to reverse a policy advanced by the Obama administration.
Tuesday, the Supreme Court announced that it would allow the Trump administration to go ahead with its plan to restrict transgender people from military service, while court challenges persist.
The vote was a 5-4 split, with the five conservative members approving the plan. Even so, the Supreme Court declined to take a direct commitment, pending the outcome of cases in the lower courts.
Before President Obama changed the policy, transgender members could be discharged from military service. In 2016, the military said that transgender individuals already in the military were permitted to serve openly. And by the summer of 2017, they would be allowed to enlist.
Now that policy is put on hold by the Supreme Court as it awaits the decisions from the lower courts.
The Supreme Court, however, announced that it was not likely to review, at least during the current term, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. The program, commonly known as DACA, was initiated by the Obama administration and is one that the Trump administration has been trying to eliminate.
This non-action by the Supreme Court might temporarily jam Trump’s gambit to use the DACA program as a bargaining chip to end the government shutdown. He had offered temporary protection of the DACA beneficiaries in exchange for billions of dollars to build his wall along the southern border, what boils down to holding the young people as hostages. The offer was quickly rejected by Democratic leaders.
So, in effect, when it comes to complying with the Trump administration’s requests, the Supreme Court has allowed and not allowed. Half a loaf is perhaps better than expected from a conservative-dominated court.