In this Feb. 14, 2018, photo, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., speaks to Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit, on Capitol Hill, in Washington.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Supreme Court Allows Military to Restrict Transgender Enrollment; Duckworth Claims Discrimination

The court's decision clears the way for the Pentagon to bar enlistment by people who have undergone a gender transition.

January 22, 2019 - 5:34 pm
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX/AP) - Illinois U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran, is reacting to the United States Supreme Court’s order Tuesday morning, allowing the Trump Administration's plan to restrict military service by transgender men and women to go forward. 

The court's decision clears the way for the Pentagon to bar enlistment by people who have undergone a gender transition. It will also allow the administration to require that military personnel serve as members of their biological gender unless they began a gender transition under less restrictive Obama administration rules.

Related: High Court Lets Military Implement Transgender Restrictions

Duckworth, who calls the plan discriminatory released a statement: 

“When I was bleeding to death in my Black Hawk helicopter on that dusty field in Iraq, I didn't care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender, black, white, male or female. All that mattered was they didn't leave me behind. If you are willing to risk your life for our country and you can do the job, you should be able to serve—no matter your gender identity or sexual orientation."

Related: Duckworth Will Not 'Mindlessly Cater To Whims Of Cadet Bone Spurs'

She goes on to say, "Today’s decision is disheartening not only because it will help the Trump Administration discriminate against an ever-shrinking portion of our population who are willing to serve in uniform, but also because it enables the Administration to further disrupt to our military and weaken our national security. 

“I hope the Court takes up this case and loudly and clearly tells the Administration that this sort of discrimination has no place in our military, and I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Congress will send the same message and show our servicemembers that we have their backs.”

Duckworth lost her right leg near the hip and her left leg below the knee in 2004, when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by Iraqi insurgents. 

The Trump administration has sought for more than a year to change the Obama-era rules and had urged the justices to take up cases about its transgender troop policy immediately, but the court declined for now.

Those cases will continue to move through lower courts and could eventually reach the Supreme Court again. The fact that five justices were willing to allow the policy to take effect for now, however, makes it more likely the Trump administration's policy will ultimately be upheld.