Activist judges have been on a mission to expand the influence of the courts in America for the last half-century, but they may have just crossed a red line. The courts have decided a lot of things – but how the president runs the military isn't one of them. When it comes to America's defense, there is one commander-in-chief. The Constitution is clear: Donald Trump is the final authority on military policy. And after two years of liberal judges presuming to know better than this president, it's refreshing to see at least one court acknowledge who's in charge.
After a year and a half of fighting judicial activists for power that's been his all along, President Trump finally won a victory in his push to end social experimentation in the military. Seventeen months after he first rolled back Barack Obama's transgender troop policy, the D.C. Circuit Court agreed that it was within his prerogative to do so. With a deference that's almost extinct these days, three judges (including an Obama appointee) sided with the administration, saying that it had done its due diligence in researching the policy and its effects.
Attorneys for GLAAD, of course, insisted that the president's decision wasn't rooted in science but bigotry. The court disagreed, saying the government had taken "substantial steps" to justify the president's position. “These included the creation of a panel of military and medical experts, the consideration of new evidence gleaned from the implementation of the policy on the service of transgender individuals instituted by then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter ... and a reassessment of the priorities of the group that produced the Carter Policy.” For the left to argue that there was nothing but prejudice behind Trump's decision is just plain untrue. There is nothing discriminatory, the DOJ pointed out, about acknowledging the consequences of gender dysphoria on our military's effectiveness.
Honestly, this isn't a question of fairness – it's a question of fitness. The president isn't banning people who identify as transgender because he hates them. He's banning people who identify as transgender for the same reason the military doesn't allow 71 percent of Americans to serve. Because either they're too old and unhealthy, or our country can't afford the distraction that medical, mental, or behavioral issues cause. That's why there are literally hundreds of conditions or physical limitations disqualifying people from military service. So many, in fact, that your fingers will get numb scrolling through them all.
The left seems to think that there's a “right” for people to serve in the military. There isn't. When it comes to keeping America secure, only the strongest and brightest will do. Does that make the military exclusionary? Yes. But the Pentagon isn't in the business of equality. It's in the business of fighting and winning wars. If that hurts feelings, so be it. Either the military's priority is protecting America – or it's helping people on the path to self-actualization. It can't do both.
The courts, this panel writes, “‘must be particularly careful not to substitute our judgment of what is desirable for that of [the executive and legislative branches], or our own evaluation of evidence for [their] reasonable evaluation’ because ‘[i]t is difficult to conceive of an area of governmental activity in which the courts have less competence.’” If anyone's opinion matters, it's the people who understand our mission best: the men and women in uniform. And, as of yesterday, 61 percent of them agree with their commander-in-chief's policy on transgenderism. If they trust him, shouldn't Americans too?
As FRC's Lt. General Jerry Boykin (U.S. Army-Ret.) pointed out, this is, above all, a “victory for our service members, who are tasked with defending America.” For once, “it allows our military to focus their mission on fighting and winning wars rather than social engineering.” Hopefully, he went on, this ruling will help “pave the way for President Trump to continue moving the military away from Obama era political correctness which left our nation's defenses at its lowest levels of readiness since before WWII. We trust that other appeals courts and the Supreme Court will agree -- and leave the responsibility for keeping our military strong and country safe where it belongs: with our commander-in-chief.”
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.
Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by the Family Research Council.