WASHINGTON ― The Senate voted Wednesday to confirm Matthew Kacsmaryk to a lifetime federal judgeship despite his record of hostility toward LGBTQ rights and abortion rights.
The Senate voted 52-46 to put Kacsmaryk, 42, onto the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Every Democrat present voted no. Every Republican present but one, Susan Collins (Maine), voted yes.
The full vote tally is here.
LGBTQ and reproductive rights groups have been protesting Kacsmaryk’s nomination for more than a year because of his extreme views on both fronts. Last week, dozens of human rights groups signed a letter opposing him.
Kacsmaryk fought against protections for LGBTQ people in employment, housing and health care. He 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. He signed a 2016 letter that called being transgender “a delusion.”
On reproductive rights, Kacsmaryk opposed the employer contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act and played a lead role in opposing a Washington state law that required pharmacists to provide birth control to women.
He also criticized the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, describing that case as one in which “seven justices of the Supreme Court found an unwritten ‘fundamental right’ to abortion hiding in the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the shadowy ‘penumbras’ of the Bill of Rights, a celestial phenomenon invisible to the non-lawyer eye.” (What?)
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wondered aloud how anyone could expect Kacsmaryk to be a fair and impartial judge. He cited bizarre comments Kacsmaryk has made about the Equality Act, a sweeping LGBTQ anti-discrimination bill.
“He labeled the Equality Act a ‘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,’” Schumer said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “Why on earth is this man a nominee for a lifetime appointment? Why would my colleagues want to drape black robes over these bigoted views? Our judicial system is designed to protect liberties, not denigrate them.”
Kacsmaryk, who is the deputy general counsel for First Liberty Institute, a right-wing Christian advocacy group, sounds like a lot of President Donald Trump’s other judicial nominees — young, right-wing ideologues, the vast majority of whom are white men.
But even within the homogeneity of Trump’s court picks, Kacsmaryk stands out.
“He is one of Trump’s most extreme nominees,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor and an expert on judicial nominations. “His public statements about LGBTQ people and about abortion suggest that in litigation involving LGBTQ and abortion rights, litigants will have difficulty believing that he will fairly resolve their cases.”
Kacsmaryk does have something in common with nearly all of Trump’s judicial nominees: He’s a member of the conservative Federalist Society, which has been driving Trump’s judicial selection process and funneling anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ nominees to the White House.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has made judicial confirmations his top priority while Trump is in the White House. In the past two and a half years, he has ushered through the confirmations of two Supreme Court justices, 76 district judges and 41 circuit judges.
That’s more circuit judges than any president has gotten through by this point in a first term. To put that into perspective: 1 in 5 of all of the nation’s current circuit judges was nominated by Trump.