A federal judge in Alabama ruled last week that President Donald Trump is not legally responsible for potential discrimination by private employers. See Williamson v. Trump, No. 7:17-01490-LSC, 2017 WL 4536419 (N.D. Ala. Oct. 11, 2017). On August 15, 2017, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense and Homeland Security. That memorandum prohibits accession of transgender employees in the United States military and authorizes the discharge of such individuals. Cassandra Williamson is a transgender veteran living in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Ms. Williamson sued, claiming that the memorandum violated her rights to equal protection under the United States Constitution.
Ms. Williamson did not argue that she is a part of the class of military personnel directly affected by the memorandum. Instead, she claimed that President Trump’s memorandum had an immediate and chilling impact on her “ability to get work,” because it was “seen by the community and prospective potential employers … as justification to not consider her for employment and to mistreat her when she goes out to get food, go to church, and deal with other issues in the community, or even to walk her dog.”
United States District Court Judge Scott Coogler dismissed Ms. Williamson’s complaint. Judge Cooger relied upon a legal doctrine called “standing.” In summary, the standing doctrine required Ms. Williamson to demonstrate that she was injured by President Trump’s memorandum, and that the court could prevent future injuries. Ms. Williamson’s complaint failed to surmount that obstacle: “Plaintiff’s allegations are that employers, not the President, have caused an injury to Plaintiff through employment discrimination. Although the memorandum does order that the accession of transgender persons in the military eventually be ceased, it in no way directs the hiring practices of private individuals or companies.”
Ms. Williamson lost her case because she is not directly affected by the memorandum. Several other law suits have been filed in other parts of the country directly challenging the ban on behalf of service members. The United States Department of Justice filed a motion two weeks ago seeking to have one of those cases dismissed. Here’s a link discussing that motion. DOJ Moves To Dismiss Transgender Ban Lawsuit.