WASHINGTON, Dec 22 (Reuters) - A federal appeals court in Washington on Friday rejected a bid by President Donald Trump’s administration to prevent the U.S. military from accepting transgender recruits starting Jan. 1, the second court to issue such a ruling this week.
Three federal judges around the country have issued injunctions blocking Trump’s ban on transgender people from the military. The administration has appealed all three rulings.
In a six-page order, the three-judge-panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the administration had “not shown a strong likelihood that they will succeed on the merits of their challenge” to a district court’s order blocking the ban.
On Thursday the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it was denying the administration’s request while the appeal proceeds.
The two courts’ actions could prompt the administration to ask the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.
The administration had argued that the Jan. 1 deadline for accepting transgender recruits was problematic because tens of thousands of personnel would have to be trained on the medical standards needed to process transgender applicants, and the military was not ready for that.
The Obama administration had set a deadline of July 1, 2017, to begin accepting transgender recruits, but Trump’s defense secretary, James Mattis, postponed that date to Jan. 1.
In an August memorandum, Trump gave the military until March 2018 to revert to a policy prohibiting openly transgender individuals from joining the military and authorizing their discharge. The memo also halted the use of government funds for sex-reassignment surgery for active-duty personnel. (Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Leslie Adler)