Monday, February 13, 2023

This Trump-Appointed Judge Is About to Do Big Damage in My Texas Hometown


Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk

AMARILLO, Tex. -- This is where you go to sue in Federal court if you're looking to hurt women's rights and LGBTQ rights, because a single Trump-appointed judge for the Northern District of Texas gets to decide all those cases -- Matthew Kacsmaryk -- a former Christian Right activist who is well on the record expressing hostility to abortion and to any gender fluidity.

A quickie anti-abortion group, fetchingly called "Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine," incorporated in late summer 2022, claimed Amarillo as its home, and very quickly, three months later, sued the Biden administration in November seeking a nationwide ban on the "abortion pill" mifepristone. Mifepristone was approved by the FDA in 2000 and is available by mail, telemedicine, and pharmacy pickup. Mifepristone is one of two medications used to terminate pregnancies, and already over 29 states, including Texas, have laws or restrictions on the use of the medication. The Federal suit in Amarillo before Judge Kacsmaryk seeks a reversal of FDA approval.

A local Amarillo doctor, who also signed on as a plaintiff, claims a woman he was treating suffered complications from using mifepristone. A press release bragging about the suit: “The FDA never had the authority to approve these dangerous drugs for sale. We urge the court to listen to the doctors we represent who are seeking to protect girls and women from the documented dangers of chemical abortion drugs.”

Judge Kacsmaryk could side with the plaintiffs and grant an emergency injunction forcing the FDA to revoke its approval of mifepristone. Abortion advocates said this would pull the drug from the market and effectively initiate a nationwide ban on the medication.

How Important Is Kacsmaryk to the Trumpists?

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sued at least eight times over Biden policies in Kacsmaryk's court. It's where you go if you've got a bullshit piece of legal reasoning for turning back the clock 100 years. Judge-shopping, and Kacsmaryk's boutique is always open for business. Appeals of Kacsmaryk's rulings go the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, whose Republican-appointed majority routinely issues rulings favoring conservative causes.

Trump forst nominated Kacsmaryk for the Federal bench in 2017, and it was one of the most contested nominations that Mitch McConnell forced through the Senate. The first vote on Kacsmaryk in the Judiciary Committee was 11-10, but the nomination never made it to the floor of the Senate because of adjournment. Trump renominated him in February 2019. The vote in the Judiciary Committee the second time was 12-10. In the Senate floor vote, Kacsmaryk was confirmed 52-46. Even trembling reed Susan Collins voted against him.

The American Bar Association rated Kacsmaryk "qualified" (a ranking below "well qualified"). Senate Democrats and a number of LGBTQ advocacy groups opposed his nomination because of his writings and comments on LGBTQ rights and women's contraceptive rights. He had previously worked on cases opposing certain LGBTQ protections in housing, employment, and health care. He had referred to homosexuality as "disordered" and to transgender people as suffering from a "delusion" and a "mental disorder." He certainly opposed Roe v. Wade.

A Note on My Hometown

It ain't Amarillo. My hometown of Silverton, Texas, about 80 miles southeast of Amarillo, barely exists any more. Amarillo is where we went to shop. Amarillo was our big city. It's where high school seniors went to get drunk and get laid. The world-famous "Cadillac Ranch" is a few miles west of Amarillo on I-40.

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