In his ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Frederick Block cited the Supreme Court's June decision that bans LGBTQ employment discrimination. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 17 (UPI) -- A day before the policy change was to go into effect, a federal judge blocked the Trump administration on Monday from rolling back Obama-era healthcare protections for people who identify as transgender.
U.S. District Judge Frederic Block issued a preliminary injunction against the move, citing a recent Supreme Court decision that ruled it unlawful to discriminate against a transgender person as to do so is to discriminate against them based on their sex.
In his 26-page ruling, Block chastised the Department of Health and Human Services for attempting to implement the rule despite the highest court's decision, stating "when the Supreme Court announces a major decision, it seems a sensible thing to pause and reflect on the decision's impact.
"Since HHS has been unwilling to take that path voluntarily, the court now imposes it."
The department's new rule was set to go into effect Tuesday and would have removed protections in the Affordable Care Act that made it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of sex.
The ACA's anti-discrimination protection has been blocked from going into effect since 2016. In June 2019, HHS gave notice of its proposal to repeal those protections, raising the ire of LGBTQ activists.
However, in June of this year, the Supreme Court ruled in favor in a civil rights case concerning protections granted to employees against discrimination in the workplace.
Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, which brought the lawsuit against the Trump administration on behalf of two women of color, called Monday's decision a "crucial early" victory, not only for their clients but for the entire LGBTQ community.
"We are pleased the court recognized this irrational rule for what it is: discrimination, plain and simple. LGBTQ Americans deserve the healthcare that they need without fear of mistreatment, harassment or humiliation," David said in a statement.
The ruling, however, did not address all of the revisions proposed by the Trump administration to the healthcare law that has attracted legal challenges to eliminations of language access and other protections.
Lambda Legal, which is suing HHS over its proposed changes to the rule, applauded Monday's decision, accusing the Trump administration of targeting LGBTQ people during a pandemic when they require medical services.
"LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people, have been under constant attack by the Trump administration. HHS' healthcare discrimination rule threatens to wreak havoc and confusion, hurting our most vulnerable populations, who already are suffering disproportionately at the hands of the COVID-19 pandemic," Lambda legal staff attorney Carl Charles said in a statement. "We applaud today's decision and look forward to continuing our fight against this rule that unlawfully targets and singles out LGBTQ people for discrimination during their most critical time of need -- when seeking healthcare."