The federal judge who on Friday suspended approval of the abortion pill mifepristone is a former Christian legal activist whose small courthouse in Amarillo, Texas, has become a go-to destination for conservatives challenging Biden administration policies.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, an appointee of former Republican President Donald Trump, had a long track record of opposing abortion and LGBTQ rights before the U.S. Senate confirmed him in 2019 to a life-tenured position as a federal judge.
Now on the bench, he has routinely ruled against Democratic causes. Since October alone, Kacsmaryk has blocked an end to Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” immigration program and ruled against Biden administration policies designed to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in the workplace and at doctors’ offices.
Kacsmaryk did not respond to a request for comment.
When anti-abortion groups in November filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s more than two-decade old approval of the abortion pill mifepristone, they filed in Amarillo, guaranteeing the case would be heard by Kacsmaryk.
Although his ruling on Friday was preliminary and not on the merits of the case, Kacsmaryk indicated he thought the challenge was substantially likely to succeed. He said that the FDA had ignored risks in approving the drug.
His ruling used language common in anti-abortion circles. Mifepristone, he said, is used to “kill unborn humans.” He disclaimed the use of the word “fetuses” as “inaccurately describing unborn humans,” noting they might be “persons” entitled to equal protection rights. He also described some of the defense arguments as supporting “eugenics.”
Josh Blackman, a conservative law professor at South Texas College of Law who knows Kacsmaryk, compared his judicial philosophy to that of two of the U.S. Supreme Court’s most conservative justices, Justice Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.