Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said in a decision issued Tuesday that the Trump administration was wrong to claim last week it could begin to implement a ban on transgender troops, reports The Hill.
In a three-page order, Kollar-Kotelly said her injunction preventing President Trump’s transgender military policy from taking effect remains in place days after the Pentagon released a memo to implement the policy.
Kollar-Kotelly wrote that “defendants were incorrect in claiming that there was no longer an impediment to the military’s implementation of the [transgender policy] in this case.”
Asked whether the order will affect plans to implement the policy on April 12, a Pentagon spokeswoman said the department is “consulting with the Department of Justice on next steps.”
Last week, acting Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist signed a memo implementing a policy that would ban most transgender people from serving in the military effective April 12.
In Tuesday’s court order, Kollar-Kotelly agreed with plaintiffs in a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, saying the D.C. Circuit Court’s judgment is not final until it issues a mandate after the March 29 deadline passes.
“On October 30, 2017, this court ordered defendants to maintain the status quo as it relates to the accession and retention of transgender individuals in the military. That preliminary injunction remains in place until the D.C. Circuit issues its mandate vacating the preliminary injunction,” she wrote. “Lacking a mandate, defendants remain bound by this court’s preliminary injunction to maintain the status quo.”
The transgender advocacy groups serving as co-counsels in the lawsuit touted Kollar-Kotelly’s order, saying it makes “crystal clear” the Trump administration cannot move forward with the policy.
“The Trump administration cannot circumvent the judicial process just to fast track its baseless, unfair ban on transgender service members,” Jennifer Levi, the director of the Transgender Rights Project of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, said in a statement. “The dedicated transgender troops who show up every day to do their duty and serve their country deserve justice, and that includes requiring this administration to follow the ordinary rules of judicial process.”