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Case Name Doe v. Trump EE-DC-0077
Docket / Court 1:17-cv-01597 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Presidential Authority
Special Collection Take Care
Attorney Organization GLAD (GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders)
National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)
Case Summary
On August 9, 2017, five active duty servicemembers in the United States military who openly identified as transgender people filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the President, Department of the Army, Department of the Air Force, and other government ... read more >
On August 9, 2017, five active duty servicemembers in the United States military who openly identified as transgender people filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the President, Department of the Army, Department of the Air Force, and other government agencies. Three additional plaintiffs, including one student at the U.S. Naval Academy and one student participating in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, were added to the suit in an amended complaint. The plaintiffs sued under the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fifth Amendment, as well as under the theory of estoppel. The plaintiffs, represented by GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and private counsel, sought declaratory judgment that the ban on transgender people from military service is unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs also sought preliminary and permanent injunctive relief prohibiting implementation of the President’s directive to prohibit transgender individuals from serving in the Armed Forces. Specifically, on July 26, 2017, President Trump announced, through a series of tweets, a prohibition on the open service of transgender people in the military. On August 25, 2017, the President signed a formal directive to the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security categorically excluding transgender people from enlisting or serving openly in the military.

From June 2016, when the U.S. military adopted a policy to permit transgender servicemembers to serve openly, the military provided ongoing support for openly transgender people serving in the armed forces. In reliance on the promises of the U.S. military, transgender servicemembers self-identified and pursued medical treatment for the purpose of gender transition. According to the plaintiffs, estoppel prevented the military from rescinding the rights, benefits, and protections promised to the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction on August 31, 2017, to prohibit the defendants from implementing the ban on transgender people enlisting and serving in the U.S. military. On October 4, 2017, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted. On October 30, 2017, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly granted in part and denied in part the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction and the defendants’ motion to dismiss. The order prohibited the defendants from complying with the accession and retention directives of the Presidential directive until the case is resolved. The order effectively reverted to the status quo with regard to the hiring and retention of opening transgender servicemembers. The court also held that it did not have jurisdiction to adjudicate the prohibition against the expenditures of medical treatment relating to gender transition because none of the plaintiffs established a likelihood of being harmed by that prohibition. Finally, the court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claim of relief under the theory of estoppel but permitted the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint with regard to estoppel. 275 F.Supp.3d 167.

On November 21, 2017, the defendants appealed to the D.C. Circuit, but then filed a notice of voluntary dismissal on December 29, 2017. Back in the district court, on March 2, 2018, the defendants filed a partial motion for judgment on the pleadings and motion to partially dissolve the preliminary injunction only with regard to President Trump as a party to the lawsuit.


On April 6, 2018, the plaintiff filed the second amended complaint and took out the estoppel claim. The defendant then filed a motion to dismiss again on April 20, 2018, as well as a motion for summary judgment and motion to dissolve the preliminary injunction. The plaintiff then filed a cross-motion for summary judgment on May 11.

On August 6, 2018, Judge Kollar-Kotelly granted the defendants’ partial motion for judgment on the pleadings and motion to partially dissolve the preliminary injunction only to the extent that it ran against the president. Accordingly, President Trump was dismissed as a party from this case. On the same day, Judge Kollar-Kotelly also denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the second amended complaint, together with the defendants’ motion for summary judgment and motion to dissolve the preliminary injunction. 315 F.Supp.3d 474. On August 24, 2018, Judge Kollar-Kotelly also denied the plaintiffs’ cross-motion for summary judgment. 322 F.Supp.3d 92

On August 27, the defendant again appealed to the D.C. Circuit. On January 4, 2019, Judges Griffith, Wilkins, and Williams issued a per curiam judgment that the district court’s denial of the defendants’ motion to dissolve the preliminary injunction is reversed and the preliminary injunction is vacated without prejudice. The circuit court stated that the district court made an erroneous finding that the new policy was merely an implementation of the 2017 policy. The circuit court reasoned that the government took substantial steps to cure the procedural deficiencies in the enjoined 2017 memorandum and the new policy was no longer a blanket ban on transgender service. As a result, the court believed that the public interest weighed in favor of dissolving the injunction.

In addition to the D.C. Circuit’s per curiam judgment, the Supreme Court recently issued a relevant order in Trump v. Karnoski. 586 U.S. 18A625 (Jan. 22, 2019). In Karnoski, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the government from taking any action on transgender individuals in the military inconsistent with the status quo that existed prior to the 2017 memorandum. Based on these decisions, the scope and breath of discovery of this case might change, so the district court ordered the parties to file a joint status report by March 28, 2019.

On March 8, 2019, the defendants filed a notice to inform the court that they intended to release a Directive-Type Memorandum (DTM) to implement the new policy in the near future. The court issued a notice and stated that the defendants could not implement the policy because the preliminary injunction ordered on October 30, 2017 was still effective. It said that the fact that three other nationwide preliminary injunctions were stayed had no impact on the continued effectiveness of this court’s preliminary injunction. Therefore, the defendants were not permitted to implement the new policy until a mandate is issued by the D.C. Circuit.

The case is ongoing with discovery as of April 2019.

Meg Hlousek - 02/12/2018
Sichun Liu - 03/29/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Follow recruitment, hiring, or promotion protocols
Hire
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-area
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Hiring
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Discrimination-basis
Gender identity
Sex discrimination
Sexual orientatation
General
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Ex Parte Young (Federal) or Bivens
Defendant(s) Secretary of Defense
The President of the United States
Plaintiff Description Eight active duty servicemembers in the United States Armed Forces who identify as transgender people.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations GLAD (GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders)
National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
1:17-cv-01597 (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0077-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/15/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
17-5267 (U.S. Court of Appeals)
EE-DC-0077-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/28/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
EE-DC-0077-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/09/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 9]
EE-DC-0077-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/31/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 60] (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0077-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/30/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 61] (2017 WL 4873042) (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0077-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/30/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order
EE-DC-0077-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/04/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 106]
EE-DC-0077-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/06/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 155] (319 F.Supp.3d 539) (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0077-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/06/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion Denying Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 157] (315 F.Supp.3d 474) (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0077-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/06/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion Denying Parties’ Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment [ECF# 160] (322 F.Supp.3d 92) (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0077-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/24/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice Letter [ECF# 195]
EE-DC-0077-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/19/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Kollar-Kotelly, Colleen (FISC, D.D.C.) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-0003 | EE-DC-0077-0004 | EE-DC-0077-0007 | EE-DC-0077-0008 | EE-DC-0077-0009 | EE-DC-0077-0010 | EE-DC-0077-9000
Millett, Patricia Ann (D.C. Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-0005
Rogers, Judith Ann Wilson (D.C. Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-0005
Tatel, David S. (D.C. Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-0005
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bonauto, Mary L. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-0006 | EE-DC-0077-9001
Brill, Kathleen M. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-0006 | EE-DC-0077-9001
Cambier, Adam M. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
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Hoder, Harriet (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
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Hutchinson, Rachel C. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
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Lamb, Kevin M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Laporte, Claire (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
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Levi, Jennifer (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
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Licker, Michael J. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
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Looney, Christopher R. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
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McFadden, Daniel L. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
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Milgroom, Lauren Godles (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-0006 | EE-DC-0077-9001
Miller, Matthew E. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
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Minter, Shannon (California) show/hide docs
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Roosevelt, Theresa (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Schoenfeld, Alan E. (New York) show/hide docs
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Schroeder, Nancy Lynn (California) show/hide docs
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Stoll, Christopher (California) show/hide docs
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Whelan, Amy E. (California) show/hide docs
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Wolfson, Paul Reinherz (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Defendant's Lawyers Carmichael, Andrew Evan (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-9000 | EE-DC-0077-9001
Dorsey, Catherine (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-9001
Dover, Marleigh D. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-9001
Morrissey, Tara S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Parker, Ryan B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-9000 | EE-DC-0077-9001
Other Lawyers Abegg, Heidi Karin (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-9001
Colb, Sara A. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-9000 | EE-DC-0077-9001
Hogan, Howard Sean (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-9001
Koh, Harold H. (Connecticut) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-9001
Manning, Susan Baker (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-9000 | EE-DC-0077-9001
Schaerr, Gene C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-9001
Schafer, Matthew (New York) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-9001
Schuster, Stephanie (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Spector, Phillip Michael (Maryland) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-9001
Titus, Herbert W. (Virginia) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-9001
Wilkens, Scott B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-DC-0077-9000 | EE-DC-0077-9001

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