Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is generally comfortable supporting each of Donald Trump's conservative judicial nominees, no matter how controversial. Late last week, however, the Maine Republican, facing a challenging re-election fight next year, made an exception.
In a statement, [Collins] voiced concerns regarding Matthew Kacsmaryk's "alarming bias against LGBTQ Americans and disregard for Supreme Court precedents.""Mr. Kacsmaryk has dismissed proponents of reproductive choice as 'sexual revolutionaries,' and disdainfully criticized the legal foundations of Roe v. Wade," the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion, Collins said. "Such extreme statements reflect poorly on Mr. Kacsmaryk's temperament and suggest an inability to respect precedent and to apply the law fairly and impartially."
The senator's concerns were well grounded. Kacsmaryk famously described being transgender as a "mental disorder," and called homosexuality "disordered."
The HuffPost added, "He has fought against protections for LGBTQ people in employment, housing and health care. He has called including protections for LGBTQ people in the Violence Against Women Act 'a grave mistake.' In 2015, when Utah passed nondiscrimination protections, Kacsmaryk called the law 'a bad idea' because it suggests that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity should be taken as seriously as other forms of discrimination.... Kacsmaryk also ripped the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark 2015 marriage equality case. "
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said of Trump's nominee, "Mr. Kacsmaryk has demonstrated a hostility to the LGBTQ bordering on paranoia. It's unbelievable that this man has been nominated."
But Kacsmaryk was nominated, and yesterday, 52 Senate Republicans -- every current GOP member except Collins -- voted to confirm him to the federal bench.
The fact that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scheduled the vote during Pride Month did not go unnoticed.
Kacsmaryk also happens to be 42 years old -- one of several very young Trump nominees -- which suggests the conservative jurist will be on the federal bench for the next several decades.
It may not be the political world's sexiest story, and it's not the sort of thing that captures the public's attention, but the effects of the Republican campaign to move the judiciary sharply to the right will be felt for at least a generation.
And as things stand, there's very little anyone can do about it between now and January 2021.