Meet the Texas judge who is a favorite of conservatives in hot-button lawsuits, including abortion-pill litigation

  • Print

Judge Kacsmaryk headshot

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the Northern District of Texas. Photo from the Northern District of Texas website.

A conservative federal judge in Texas is at the center of attention because of a pending case in which he has been asked to rule that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should not have approved the medication abortion-drug mifepristone.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the Northern District of Texas, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, is expected to rule by the end of the month, the Guardian reports. If Kacsmaryk grants an injunction requested by the anti-abortion medical groups and doctors who filed the lawsuit, medication abortions could be banned in every state, according to Slate.

Kacsmaryk is a favorite judge for litigants opposing Biden administration policies and for Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Bloomberg Law reports. Because of a September change in local court rules, any case filed in the Amarillo, Texas, district where Kacsmaryk sits will be assigned to him. Before that, litigants had a 95% chance of getting Kacsmaryk when filing in Amarillo, Texas.

His prior rulings show why conservatives’ suits are being filed in his Amarillo, Texas, district.

Kacsmaryk “has halted federal action meant to protect asylum-seekers and tossed rules expanding teen access to birth control,” Bloomberg Law reports. “He also rejected a policy that stopped doctors from discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Before becoming a judge, Kacsmaryk was an associate at Baker Botts; an assistant U.S. attorney; an adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University; and a former deputy general counsel at the First Liberty Institute, a conservative group that litigates religious liberty cases. He is a graduate of Abilene Christian University and the University of Texas School of Law.

Kacsmaryk’s previous writings led LGBTQ groups to oppose his judicial nomination. He had written an amicus brief that opposed same-sex marriage and had opposed policies allowing transgender students to use restrooms that match their gender identity. He has said transgender people have a “mental disorder” and called gay people “disordered.”

In a 2015 article, he criticized the “sexual revolution” and said it was “spearheaded by secular libertines.”

The sexual revolution “sought public affirmation of the lie that the human person is an autonomous blob of Silly Putty unconstrained by nature or biology, and that marriage, sexuality, gender identity and even the unborn child must yield to the erotic desires of liberated adults,” he wrote.

Hiram Sasser, who worked with Kacsmaryk at the First Liberty Institute, told Bloomberg Law that Kacsmaryk had fought for minority faiths while there. One of his cases defended the Islamic Association of Collin County in a zoning fight.

Kacsmaryk believes in following the law the way that it is intended but is not driven by partisan politics, Sasser said.

“He’s very much a rule of law guy,” Sasser said.

The abortion-drug case is Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The plaintiffs argue that the FDA should not have approved mifepristone in 2000 because it didn’t adequately consider its safety, Reuters reports.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.