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Case Name Karnoski v. Trump EE-WA-0131
Docket / Court 2:17-cv-01297 ( W.D. Wash. )
Additional Docket(s) 19-cv-01206  [ 19-1206 ]  Western District of WA (U.S.)
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection Take Care
Attorney Organization Lambda Legal
Case Summary
On August 28, 2017, three transgender individuals, either currently serving or hoping to serve in the military, along with two civil rights organizations, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The plaintiffs, represented by the Lambda Legal Defense ... read more >
On August 28, 2017, three transgender individuals, either currently serving or hoping to serve in the military, along with two civil rights organizations, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The plaintiffs, represented by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, sued the President of the United States (Donald Trump) and the Secretary of Defense for alleged violations of the Fifth Amendment's Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses, and the First Amendment Free Speech Clause. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants’ federal policy banning transgender individuals from serving in the military was unconstitutional and motivated by animus against transgender people. The plaintiffs accordingly sought a judgment declaring the federal ban unconstitutional, a preliminary injunction barring the defendants from taking any action against transgender individuals, and attorneys’ fees. The plaintiffs also filed an amended complaint on September 14, 2017, adding four additional transgender individuals and a third civil rights organization.

The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on October 16, 2017. They alleged that the plaintiffs’ suit was premature because the President had issued a memorandum directing the Secretary of Defense to halt any actions until a policy review had been completed. The President had also stated in the memorandum that no changes to the current policy were to be made until at least March 2018. The defendants therefore alleged that the plaintiffs could not show that they would suffer irreparable harm absent a preliminary injunction because their harms were speculative at this stage.

On December 11, 2017, District Judge Marsha J. Pechman denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ equal protection, substantive due process, and First Amendment claims, and granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction; the preliminary injunction took effect immediately and was ordered to remain in effect until the suit was resolved. 2017 WL 6311305. On December 14, 2017, the defendants appealed the grant of the preliminary injunction to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

On December 15, 2017, the defendants filed an emergency motion to the Ninth Circuit to stay the preliminary injunction, alleging that the injunction would impose irreparable harm on the defendants and general public by forcing the military to implement a service accession policy in a rushed timetable. However, the defendants soon withdrew their motion for a stay, and on December 30th they voluntarily dismissed the appeal.

Meanwhile, on December 14, the State of Washington filed a complaint as an intervenor-plaintiff against the defendants in order to protect itself, its residents, and the Washington National Guard from the federal ban.

On January 25th, 2018, the plaintiffs and the State of Washington filed motions for summary judgement. On February 12, 2018, the defendants responded with a motion arguing that they were entitled to conduct discovery before summary judgement. On February 21, 2018, the defendants' motion was denied. 2018 WL 993973. On February 28, 2018, the defendants filed a cross motion for partial summary judgement and an opposition to the plaintiffs’ and intervenor’s motion for summary judgement.

On March 23, 2018, White House released a new proposed plan, which would ban transgender people from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Services. Based on this new plan, the defendants moved to dissolve the preliminary injunction. On March 27, 2018, the plaintiffs argued that the new plan, too, was clearly unconstitutional.

On April 13, 2018, the district court rejected the new plan and ordered that the preliminary injunction remain in effect. 2018 WL 1784464. The court also granted in part and denied in part all motions and cross-motions for summary judgement. Specifically, the court denied summary judgment as to plaintiffs’ and Washington’s equal protection, due process, and First Amendment claims. The court granted the plaintiffs’ and Washington’s motions for summary judgment with respect to the applicable level of scrutiny (strict scrutiny). As the Court said in its order, "This means that before Defendants can implement the Ban, they must show that it was sincerely motivated by compelling interests, rather than by prejudice or stereotype, and that it is narrowly tailored to achieve those interests." The Court also refused to dismiss President Trump from the case, allowing the plaintiff and Washington's claims for declaratory relief to move forward against him.

On November 27, 2018, the defendants filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court, asking the Court to directly review the District Court's preliminary injunction. The Supreme Court stayed the December 11 order granting the preliminary injunction while the appeal to the Ninth Circuit was pending. 139 S.Ct. 950.

On March 8, 2019 the defendants notified the court of the Maryland District Court’s decision in Stone v. Trump to stay the same preliminary injunction. The defendants stated their intent to implement the policy via a Directive-type Memorandum, which the Secretary of Defense released on March 12, 2019.

The Ninth Circuit issued an opinion on the writ of mandamus on June 14, 2019. The panel, composed of Raymond C. Fisher, Consuelo M. Callahan, and Richard R. Clifton, vacated the order striking the motion to dissolve the restraining order, stayed the preliminary injunction through further consideration of the motion to dissolve the injunction, and settling several discovery disputes. Regarding the motion to dissolve, the panel concluded that the 2018 change in policy was sufficiently different from the 2017 order that inspired the injunction; as a result, they held that the court should review if the injunction should remain in place based on these changes. They remanded the motion to the lower court to make this determination. In addition, they referred to the Supreme Court's opinion on staying the injunction when directing the district court to continue staying the injunction through the review of its necessity in light of the new policy change and any appeals that may follow. Finally, the panel stated that the 2018 policy was due a degree of deference, though not rational basis review, because it appeared to be the "product of an independent military judgment." The judgment went into effect on August 7. 926 F.3d 1180.

The plaintiffs filed another amended complaint on July 31, 2019. The amended complaint reflected the current list of plaintiffs (the plaintiff group voluntarily dismissed one plaintiff on July 23) and revised the facts section to reflect the changes in the 2018 policy memorandum. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intervened in response to the new complaint on August 29.

On August 16, 2019, the plaintiffs filed a joint stipulation to consolidate this case with another case of the same name, 19-cv-01206. The second case originated in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, and was just a motion to compel compliance with a subpoena order on Dr. Paul McHugh. The subpoena case was moved to the Western District of Washington for convenience, and combined for that reason. The court officially consolidated the cases on August 28.

Discovery continued. It was quite contested; the plaintiffs regularly sought information from the defendants on deliberations surrounding the creation of the 2018 policy, and the defendants resisted using deliberative process privilege. Unable to efficiently resolve the discovery disputes, the district court appointed James Donoghue as Special Master on April 9, 2020, after seeking recommendations from the parties.

The case is ongoing.

Lisa Limb - 01/20/2018
Anna Brito - 12/05/2018
Erica Lignell - 04/10/2019
Ellen Aldin - 06/24/2020


compress summary

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-area
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Hiring
Medical Exam / Inquiry
Discrimination-basis
Gender identity
General
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
State Plaintiff
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) President of the United States
U.S. Secretary of Defense
Plaintiff Description Transgender individuals, currently serving or hoping to serve in the military, and civil rights organizations.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Lambda Legal
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 Litigation
Order Duration 2017 - 2019
Filed 08/28/2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing EE-CA-0359 : Stockman v. Trump (C.D. Cal.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Karnoski v. Trump
Lambda Legal
Date: Jun. 14, 2019
By: Lambda Legal
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Directive Implementing Trump Transgender Military Ban
Executive Services Directorate
Date: Mar. 12, 2019
By: Department of Defense
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  HRC Represented By Lambda Legal & OutServe-SLDN in Lawsuit Against Trump’s Trans Military Ban
HRC Represented By Lambda Legal & OutServe-SLDN in Lawsuit Against Trump’s Trans Military Ban
Date: Aug. 28, 2017
By: Guest Contributor (Human Rights Campaign)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
W.D. Wash. 2:17-cv-01297-MJP
EE-WA-0131-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/24/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
W.D. Wash.
Washington's Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 150]
EE-WA-0131-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/25/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
EE-WA-0131-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/28/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
First Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 30]
EE-WA-0131-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/14/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
Order Denying Defendants' Request for Stay of Proceedings [ECF# 98]
EE-WA-0131-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/20/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 103]
EE-WA-0131-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/11/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
Complaint in Intervention by State of Washington for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 104]
EE-WA-0131-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/14/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 129]
EE-WA-0131-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/25/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
Defendants' Rule 56 (d) Response to Plaintiffs' and Intervenor's Motions for Summary Judgment [ECF# 178]
EE-WA-0131-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/12/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiffs' and Intervenor's Motions for Summary Judgment and Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [ECF# 194]
EE-WA-0131-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/28/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiffs' and Washington's Motions for Summary Judgment; Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [ECF# 233] (2018 WL 1784464)
EE-WA-0131-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/13/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
Order Denying Motion to Stay Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 283]
EE-WA-0131-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/15/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
U.S. Court of Appeals
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 153] (926 F.3d 1180)
EE-WA-0131-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/14/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
Second Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 347, 347-1]
EE-WA-0131-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/31/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
Joint Stipulation to Consolidate Cases 2:17-cv-01297- MJP and 2:19-cv-01206-MJP For All Purposes [ECF# 360]
EE-WA-0131-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/16/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
Order Appointing Special Master [ECF# 479, 479-1]
EE-WA-0131-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/09/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Callahan, Consuelo Maria (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-WA-0131-0012
Clifton, Richard R. (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-WA-0131-0012
Fisher, Raymond C. (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-WA-0131-0012
Pechman, Marsha J. (W.D. Wash.) show/hide docs
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Monitors/Masters Donahue, James (Washington) show/hide docs
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Plaintiff's Lawyers Ala'Ilima, Chalia Stallings (Washington) show/hide docs
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Baker, La Rond (Washington) show/hide docs
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Buchert, Sasha J. (California) show/hide docs
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Castillo, Paul D. (Texas) show/hide docs
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Charles, Carl (New York) show/hide docs
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Heinz, Jordan Mitchell (Illinois) show/hide docs
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Horvitz, Rachel J (Washington) show/hide docs
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Hurst, James F. (Illinois) show/hide docs
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Ikard, Sam (Illinois) show/hide docs
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Ingelhart, Kara N. (Illinois) show/hide docs
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Lerner, Scott (Illinois) show/hide docs
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Melody, Colleen (Washington) show/hide docs
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Patton, Stephen Ray (Illinois) show/hide docs
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Perkowski, Peter E. (California) show/hide docs
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Renn, Peter C. (California) show/hide docs
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Robertson, Cynthia C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Siegfried, Daniel I. (Illinois) show/hide docs
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Sykes, Jason (Washington) show/hide docs
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Taylor, Camilla B. (Illinois) show/hide docs
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Tyson, Joseph B. (Illinois) show/hide docs
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Skurnik, Matthew (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Other Lawyers Ainsworth, Sara (Washington) show/hide docs
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Beane, Amanda J. (Washington) show/hide docs
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Boyd, Robert C K (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Bradley, Gerard V. (Indiana) show/hide docs
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Chamberlain, Katherine (Washington) show/hide docs
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Dreier, Alexander E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Ewart, Michael J. (Washington) show/hide docs
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Gorod, Brianne J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Miller, William C (New York) show/hide docs
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