A novice at governing, President Donald Trump apparently didn't consider there might be a right way and wrong way to try to reverse the Obama administration's policy allowing transgender Americans to serve openly in the military.
Two federal judges have now weighed in to rule the path Trump chose - announcing a ban on transgender service members in a series of tweets, with shaky claims of harmed readiness and ignoring counsel of Joint Chiefs - almost certainly violated constitutional rights of current and prospective service members.
Both rulings gave stinging rebukes of the way Trump tried to impose the ban and sharp critiques of arguments by Justice Department attorneys defending Trump's actions. Two more court challenges to the ban are pending.
The preliminary injunction granted Oct. 30 by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly for the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia enjoins Trump and the Defense Department from enforcing "accession and retention directives" issued in September to implement the formal "presidential memorandum" Trump signed in August.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis in Maryland issued a preliminary injunction against Trump's plan to halt recruitment of transgender members and to discharge those serving. Garbis' order also would prevent the military from denying funding for sex-reassignment surgeries.
Kollar-Kotelly was nominated to the federal bench in 1997 by President Bill Clinton, Garbis in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush.
Neither judge spared criticism of Trump's handling of a sensitive and complex issue with tweets that immediately began impacting the lives and livelihood of military members, some of whom served for decades and fought in recent wars.
"A capricious, arbitrary and unqualified tweet of new policy does not trump the methodical and systematic review by military stakeholders qualified to understand the ramifications of policy changes," Garbis wrote.
Kollar-Kotelly found "all of the reasons proffered by [Trump] for excluding transgender individuals from the military in this case were not merely unsupported but were actually contradicted by the studies, conclusions and judgment of the military itself."
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