News (USA)

Abortion pill-banning judge allegedly hid his anti-trans journal article before Senate vote

The First Liberty Institute denies Matthew Kacsmaryk deleted his name from a Christian Nationalist call to ban trans healthcare.
The First Liberty Institute denies Matthew Kacsmaryk deleted his name from a Christian Nationalist call to ban trans healthcare. Photo: First Liberty Institute

The Donald Trump-appointed judge who overturned the FDA’s approval of abortion pills removed his name from a Texas law journal article and replaced it with two different authors’ names just before his Senate confirmation hearing, according to sources familiar with the change.

The article condemned both transgender health care and abortion rights, using Christian Nationalist-inspired language.

Writing as a lawyer for a conservative legal group, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, 46, criticized the Obama administration in the draft article for disregarding religious physicians who “cannot use their scalpels to make female what God created male” and “cannot use their pens to prescribe or dispense abortifacient drugs designed to kill unborn children.”

The Washington Post reports the journal’s editor received an unusual email prior to the article’s publication. Citing “reasons I may discuss at a later date,” Kacsmaryk said he was taking his name off the piece and replacing it with two colleagues’ names from the anti-LGBTQ+ First Liberty Institute.

The article was published with those individuals’ names, not Kacsmaryk’s.

At the time, Kacsmaryk was awaiting a White House interview and a Senate confirmation hearing following his formal nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Then general counsel for First Liberty, Kacsmaryk had already been interviewed for the post by Texas Republican Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.

Kacsmaryk’s nomination passed 52-46, with two not voting in the Republican-dominated Senate in 2019.

The article titled “The Jurisprudence of the Body” was published in September 2017 by the Texas Review of Law and Politics, a far-right publication that Kacsmaryk led as a law student at the University of Texas.

U.S. Senate guidelines require judicial nominees to list all published work on a questionnaire submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, including “books, articles, reports, letters to the editor, editorial pieces, or other published material you have written or edited.”

Not only did Kacsmaryk fail to list the Christian Nationalist-inspired critique, but falsifying attribution of the work could bring him under scrutiny from the Senate Judiciary Committee, now controlled by Democrats.

A spokesperson for First Liberty said in a statement that Kacsmaryk’s name on the disputed article was only a “placeholder” and claimed Kacsmaryk had not provided a “substantive contribution.”

The Texas journal’s editor-in-chief at the time, Aaron Reitz, who is now a deputy to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), told the Post Kacsmaryk was “our chief point of contact during much of the editing” and “was the placeholder until final authors were named by First Liberty.”

Despite the repeated declarations of “placeholder” to describe Kacsmaryk, a former review editor said there was no evidence that was the case. It was the only instance at the conservative journal that the editor ever saw author names swapped.  

Emails shared with the Post reveal that soon after his meeting with Cruz and Cornyn, but before his anticipated meeting with the White House general counsel, Kacsmaryk was still at work on the article, making edits to an “MJK First Draft,” identified by the judge’s initials.

“I modified the last sentence in the opening paragraph of section III,” Kacsmaryk wrote. At the end of the message he added, “Keep fighting the good fight!”

The author attribution request came soon after.

According to the unnamed journal editor, a question to the editor-in-chief about why Kacsmaryk wanted the change earned the reply, “You’ll see.”

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