U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Donald Trump appointee, has sided with anti-abortion plaintiffs seeking to remove a commonly used abortion pill from the market, but the Texas judge stayed his ruling for now, allowing the federal government a week to appeal.
The Supreme Court could have the last word, but if Friday’s ruling goes into effect, it could upend the ability to obtain mifepristone nationwide.
The anti-abortion plaintiffs asked Kacsmaryk to agree that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration wrongly approved mifepristone decades ago. They intentionally brought the case to Kacsmaryk, who’s known for advancing Republican priorities and sits in Amarillo, Texas, where cases are reviewed by the conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before they reach the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, a federal judge in Washington state issued a mifepristone ruling Friday that contradicts Kacsmaryk’s, increasing the likelihood that the Supreme Court will have the final word. That’s because a different appeals court, the 9th Circuit, hears cases from Washington state. The conflicting injunction — blocking the FDA from altering the availability of mifepristone — was issued by Judge Thomas Rice, who was appointed by Barack Obama.
Rice’s ruling applies only to the states involved in that lawsuit — not nationwide — but it could conflict with Kacsmaryk’s ruling to the extent that the Texas ruling applies nationwide if it goes into effect.