ACLU Sues Trump Over Transgender Military Ban

Stone v. Trump, Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

In response to the August 25 presidential memorandum, the ACLU filed a petition in the District of Maryland on behalf of six openly serving transgender members of the military.

This lawsuit reiterates the basic claims of the recently filed GLAD and NCLR suit, Doe v. Trump, but it parses out the three critical elements of the August 25th memo: (1) ban on existing service members (Sec. 1(b)); (2) ban on new enlistments (Sec. 2(a)); and (3) ban on medically necessary care (Sec. 2(b)).

Further, Stone v. Trump argues that discrimination against transgender individuals deserves heightened scrutiny. The Supreme Court has not yet determined whether transgender individuals, as a class, deserve intermediate or strict scrutiny when reviewing government discrimination against transgender people.

One avenue for heightened scrutiny it to fold such discrimination into “sex” discrimination which already receives intermediate scrutiny. This position was taken by the Eleventh Circuit, which held in Glenn v. Brumby that discrimination against transgender individuals is a form of sex discrimination. Another route would be to find that transgender status is a suspect or quasi-suspect class that deserves heightened scrutiny, like sex, race, or nationality. In Adkins v. City of New York, the Southern District of New York found that transgender individuals are a “quasi-suspect” class in their own right. Stone v. Trump argues both routes. See p. 34, ¶ 140-141.

Procedural Posture:

This is an initial complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Plaintiffs, Petty Officer First Class Brock Stone, Staff Sergeant Kate Cole, Senior Airmen John Doe, Technical Sergeant Tommie Parker, Airman First Class Seven Ero George, and Petty Officer First Class Teagan Gilbert, request declaratory and injunctive relief from Defendants, Donald J. Trump in his official capacity as President of the United States; James N. Mattis in his official capacity as Secretary of Defense; Ryan McCarthy in his official capacity as Acting Secretary of the Army; Richard Spencer in his official capacity as Secretary of the Navy; and Heather A. Wilson in her official capacity as Secretary of the Air Force; the U.S. Coast Guard.

Claims Presented:

  1.     Plaintiffs seek relief under the Equal Protection clause of the Fifth Amendment.
  2.     Plaintiffs seek relief under the Substantive Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Read the Petition.


Author: Amanda L. Hass

Amanda L. Hass graduated magna cum laude from Loyola University of New Orleans, College of Law, earning a Juris Doctor and Certificate in Social Justice. She was a member of the Loyola Law Review and a William L. Crowe Scholar. From 2016 to 2017, Ms. Hass was an extern for Senior Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle of the Eastern District of Louisiana and a student practitioner in the Workplace Justice Clinic.