Trump Can't Justify Unconstitutional Bans with 'Bare Desire' to Harm Politically Unpopular Groups: Expert

Article ID: 684440

Released: 1-Nov-2017 5:05 PM EDT

Source Newsroom: Northwestern University

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  • Credit: Northwestern University

    Brian Mustanski

  • Credit: Northwestern University

    Andrew Kopelman

  • Credit: Northwestern University

    Michael Allen

Newswise — EVANSTON, Ill. --- A federal judge on Monday blocked President Donald Trump’s policy that banned transgender people from serving in the military. She ruled the policy was likely unconstitutional. Northwestern University professors Michael Allen, Andrew Koppelman and Brian Mustanksi are available for comment.

Andrew Koppelman is the John Paul Stevens Professor of Law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and professor of political science and a constitutional law scholar. He is the author of “The Tough Luck Constitution and the Assault on Health Care Reform” (Oxford University Press, 2013).  He can be reached at or 312.503.8431 (office).

Quote from Professor Koppelman
“It’s been settled law for decades that government action can’t be justified by a bare desire to harm a politically unpopular group. We now have for the first time a President who is dumb enough to announce his unconstitutional purposes when he enacts policies. Of course the courts slap him down. It remains to be seen whether the man is capable of learning.”

Michael Allen is an associate professor of history in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern. He is a historian of the United States in the 20th century who researches the politics of U.S. foreign policy. His first book “Until The Last Man Comes Home: POWs, MIAs, and the Unending Vietnam War” (University of North Carolina Press, 2009) examined the politics of loss that emerged from American defeat in the Vietnam Wars through a history of the POW/MIA movement. Contact: or 847.467.3979 (office); 847.999.8571 (cell)

Quote from Professor Allen
“Trump cites the standard arguments that have always been made against inclusion in the armed forces. I find such arguments no more applicable or persuasive in this instance than when they were put forth as grounds for the segregation of the armed forces and the restriction of most African-American troops to non-combat and non-officer roles prior to 1948, when they were used to prevent gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military prior to 2010, or when they were used to restrict women to non-combat roles until recently.

“In each case, discriminatory limits on who could serve their country and how they could serve reduced the nation’s military capacity, divided the American people and diminished their support for the nation’s military endeavors, and tarnished the nation’s moral authority in the world.”

Brian Mustanski is the director for the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH), and a professor of medical social sciences in the Feinberg School of Medicine. Mustanski focuses on the mental and behavioral health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, with a focus on youth. Mustanksi was listed as one of the #Pride30 on 2017 NBC News Out list.
Contact: 312.503.5421 (office) or

Quote from Professor Mustanski
“In my 15 years of studying LGBT health, research has shown that discriminatory policies designed to prevent sexual and gender minority people from full participation in society negatively impacts their mental and physical health.

“Alternatively, policies that support the equality of LGBT people have been shown to not only benefit the LGBT community but also the general population.

“The cost of healthcare was originally cited as a reason behind the policy. However, research shows that healthcare costs for transgender people are similar to those of the general population. The exception is for transgender service members who seek gender-transition related healthcare, which could add up to a very small approximately 0.2 percent increase in military health care expenditures. Inversely, the cost of providing care up front helps prevent future healthcare costs amassed by mental and physical health problems that may arise from lack of care. Research on the U.S. military has shown that similar policy changes that allowed gay and lesbian personnel to serve openly in the U.S. military have had no significant effect on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness or readiness.”


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