What To Know About Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk—Controversial Trump-Appointee Blocking Abortion Pill


A District Court ruling halting federal approval of the commonly used abortion pill mifepristone has drawn intense interest in the presiding judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk, an appointee of former President Donald Trump who previously worked as an attorney for a religious freedom legal group noted for opposing LGBTQ rights and abortion.

Key Facts

Kacsmaryk graduated from the University of Texas Law School in 2003 before beginning his legal career with the law firm Baker Botts where he worked as a real estate attorney, according to court records.

Kacsmaryk then served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas and worked on two high-profile criminal cases—the convictions of James McDaniel, who killed Southern Methodist University student Meaghan Bosch, and Khalid Aldaswari, a former Texas Tech University student who plotted to bomb the Super Bowl.

In 2014, Kacsmaryk joined the First Liberty Institute—the “largest legal organization” dedicated to defending religious freedom—having known CEO Kelly Shackelford while in law school, according to the organization.

As an attorney there, Kacsmaryk was criticized for his views on same-sex marriage and transgender rights—he wrote in 2015 that “sexual revolutionaries” were removing the “pillars of marriage law” and said the term “gender identity” was “even more problematic”

Kacsmaryk also criticized Obergefell v. Hodges—a Supreme Court decision that ruled same-sex couples had the right to marry—and Roe v. Wade, which granted an “unwritten right to abortion” that “collides” with other constitutional rights.

The Senate confirmed Kacsmaryk as a federal judge in 2019, despite objections from Democrats and civil rights groups after Kacsmaryk described being transgendered as a “mental disorder” and called homosexuality “disordered.”


Kacsmaryk has presided over a number of cases in recent years that have created headlines. In December, Kacsmaryk halted the Biden Administration’s attempt to block Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which requires asylum seekers to wait outside of the U.S. before immigration proceedings. That same month, he ruled that a federal program that provided free birth control violated parents’ rights, as well as state and federal law. In November, Kacsmaryk ruled the Biden Administration misinterpreted the Affordable Care Act by prohibiting health care providers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity. He also said a rule set by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—which said people could dress or access facilities according to their gender identity—was in violation of prior Supreme Court rulings.

Chief Critic

Then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) said in 2019 it was “unbelievable” Kacsmaryk was nominated to the federal bench, according to the Washington Post, adding Kacsmaryk “has demonstrated a hostility to the LGBTQ bordering on paranoia.”

Key Background

Kacsmaryk was one of nearly 230 federal judges appointed by Trump. In a ruling Friday, Kacsmaryk blocked federal approval for the abortion pill mifepristone after a lawsuit was filed against the Food and Drug Administration to revoke the agency’s approval of the drug. Kacsmaryk put his ruling against mifepristone—approved by the FDA in 2000—on hold for a week so the federal government could file an appeal, which it later did. His decision has been criticized by Democrats, including President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Schumer. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said it was a “regressive ruling” that will have a “disastrous impact on women and families across America.”

Further Reading

Trump-Appointed Judge Halts Abortion Pill Mifepristone’s FDA Approval Nationwide (Forbes)

White House ‘Will Fight’ Texas Court Blocking Abortion Pill—DOJ Will Appeal (Forbes)

Abortion Pills: What To Know About Mifepristone As Biden Administration Defends It From Legal Attack (Forbes)

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