The Trump administration can go ahead with its plan to restrict military service by transgender men and women while court challenges continue, the US Supreme Court has said.
The high court split 5-4 in allowing the plan to take effect, with the court’s five conservatives backing it and its four liberal members saying they would not have.
The order from the court was brief and procedural, with no elaboration from the justices.
The court’s decision clears the way for the Pentagon to bar enlistment by people who have undergone a gender transition.
It will also allow the administration to require that military personnel serve as members of their biological gender unless they began a gender transition under less restrictive Obama administration rules.
The Trump administration has sought for more than a year to change the Obama-era rules and had urged the justices to take up cases about its transgender troop policy immediately, but the court declined for now.
Those cases will continue to move through lower courts and could eventually reach the Supreme Court again.
The fact that five justices were willing to allow the policy to take effect for now, however, makes it more likely the Trump administration’s policy will ultimately be upheld.
Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the department was pleased with the court’s decision.