Matthew Kacsmaryk, a federal district court nominee who implied that transgender people are delusional, could be confirmed as early as Wednesday.
He cleared a procedural hurdle in the Republican-led Senate on Tuesday, which voted 52 to 44 to end debate and set up final consideration of his nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, which includes Dallas.
Kacsmaryk is “among the most” anti-LGBT judicial nominees put forward by President Donald Trump, Sarah Warbelow of the Human Rights Campaign, a progressive LGBT rights group, said.
Trump is making good on a campaign promise to reshape the judiciary with conservative appointments. Most have been white and male, and more than a few have been criticized by Democrats as outside of the conservative mainstream on hot-button issues like abortion, gender, and voting rights.
But Kacsmaryk is facing some of the most widespread opposition from LGBT rights groups that any nominee has seen under Trump, Sasha Buchert of Lambda Legal, a progressive LGBT rights organization, said.
Seventy-five LGBT rights and allied groups including Lambda Legal signed on to a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, describing him as an “anti-LGBT activist.”
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the only Republican voting no on advancing the nomination, outlined her position in a statement e-mailed to Bloomberg Law.
“A number of Mr. Kacsmaryk’s writings and interviews indicate an alarming bias against the rights of” LGBT Americans and disregard for U.S. Supreme Court precedents, Collins said.
Collins criticized Kacsmaryk for describing abortion rights advocates as “sexual revolutionaries” and for saying the effort to give same-sex couples the right to marry was “typified by lawlessness.”
Kacsmaryk is a former federal prosecutor and now deputy general counsel at First Liberty, a conservative religious freedom organization. He represented bakery owners fined for refusing on religious grounds to make custom cakes for a same-sex couple’s wedding in Klein v. Or. Bureau of Labor & Indus.
The U.S. Supreme Court this week sent that case back to the Oregon Court of Appeals for further review in light of its ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colo. Civil Rights Comm’n. That decision ruled narrowly in favor of a Christian baker who had a similar religious objection.
Kacsmaryk and First Liberty didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
“This left wing fear-mongering is unfounded, unfairly conflates legal advocacy with bigotry, and actually demonstrates religious bigotry toward Christians and other people of faith who wish to speak in the public square,” said Davis, a former top Judiciary Committee nominations counsel.
Kacsmaryk also has the backing of both Republican senators from his home state—Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.
The nominee is “an accomplished attorney with a proven record of excellence, professionalism, and fidelity to the U.S. Constitution,” Cruz said.
Criticism of Kacsmaryk stems from a letter he signed onto opposing proposed hospital regulations forbidding discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity in 2016. He joined the letter on behalf of First Liberty and other organizations including the Catholic Medical Association.
The “belief that one is trapped in the body of the wrong sex” is “appropriately described as a delusion,” the letter said, quoting a 2009 article published by the National Catholic Bioethics Center.
The letter said that describing such beliefs as delusional isn’t intended to disparage persons who hold them.
Rather, it recognizes that such an “understanding of the world in a critical respect does not conform to reality, a necessary first step in providing care for such persons,” the letter said.
The No. 2 Senate Democrat suggested that the timing of Kacsmaryk’s vote was intended as a slight to “Pride Month” celebrating LGBT rights in June.
“It strikes me as unusual, more than coincidental,” that Kacsmaryk is now being brought forward, Dick Durbin of Illinois said in remarks on the Senate floor ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
- The Senate also voted to advance three other nominees:
- Allen Winsor, nominated to the Northern District of Florida, by a vote of 54 to 42;
- James Cain Jr., nominated to the Western District of Louisiana, by a vote of 76 to 20; and
- Greg Guidry, nominated to the Eastern District of Louisiana, by a vote of 53 to 43.
Like Kacsmaryk, all three are members of the Federalist Society, a group of conservatives and libertarians that has helped Trump select judicial nominees.