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GOP abortion pill judge has some explaining to do after report suggests writing coverup

Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk appears to have misled the Senate Judiciary Committee to get confirmed to the bench, according to new reporting.


Donald Trump-appointed Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk was already under a national spotlight ahead of Supreme Court action this week on his extreme ruling purporting to restrict access to the commonly used abortion pill mifepristone. But new reporting over the weekend shines an even brighter light, not on the judge’s questionable behavior while on the bench, but on apparently questionable behavior that helped put him on the bench.

The Washington Post reported on Saturday that Kacsmaryk submitted a draft article to a Texas law journal in 2017 that criticized Barack Obama-era protections for transgender people and people seeking abortions. The article criticized the Obama administration for discounting religious physicians who “cannot use their scalpels to make female what God created male” and “cannot use their pens to prescribe or dispense abortifacient drugs designed to kill unborn children.”

Kacsmaryk’s ultraconservative leanings and rulings are what led anti-abortion plaintiffs to put the mifepristone case in front of him.

None of that is entirely surprising, coming from Kacsmaryk. The main problem is that, as the Post further reported, while the article was being edited, the future judge asked to be removed as its sole author, and to be replaced by two colleagues at the First Liberty Institute, a religious conservative legal organization where he worked.

The reason that's significant is that Kacsmaryk was being considered for a judgeship at the time, and nominees need to disclose their writings to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which considers their fitness for a lifetime appointment to the bench. The article was published under his colleagues' names, and Kacsmaryk didn't report it to the committee. He was confirmed 52-46 in 2019 to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, where he's now a go-to judge for GOP causes.

Kacsmaryk did not respond to the Post's request for comment. A spokesman for the First Liberty Institute said Kacsmaryk’s name had been a “placeholder” on the article and denied Kacsmaryk had provided a “substantive contribution," according to the Post. But whatever level of contribution he made, being a "placeholder" author on an article is not a thing. Simply put, the known circumstances suggest Kacsmaryk wanted to shield himself from further scrutiny while being considered for a coveted lifetime appointment.

Kacsmaryk’s ultraconservative leanings and rulings are what led anti-abortion plaintiffs to put the mifepristone case in front of him. The Supreme Court is now considering Kacsmaryk's dubiously reasoned ruling (since narrowed by the also-dubious 5th Circuit Court of Appeals) that tried to suspend the Food and Drug Administration's approval of mifepristone, potentially throwing abortion access into chaos nationwide.

To be sure, Kacsmaryk's extreme right-wing views already made him a controversial nominee based on what was public information at the time. That makes it all the more clear why he apparently sought to suppress even further controversial work of his from the judiciary committee. It's for that reason that the committee, which may have been intentionally misled by a nominee, should investigate the matter, allowing the now-judge to explain himself under penalty of perjury. If not, then there's nothing stopping future nominees from getting onto the bench by any means necessary.