Thursday, March 16, 2023

Judge Not

Charlie Pierce looks at the judge sitting on the abortion pill case in Amarillo, Texas.

A group of kangaroos is called a “mob.” It is also called a “troupe.” And, yes, a group of kangaroos also is called a “court.” Which reminds me, there was a judicial hearing down in Texas with a direct bearing on the health, safety and freedom of all American women. From The New York Times:

Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, of the Northern District in Texas, told lawyers in the case on Friday that he was scheduling the hearing for Wednesday morning. However, he asked them not to disclose that information and said he would not enter it into the public court record until late Tuesday evening. One person familiar with the case, which is being heard in federal court in Amarillo, Texas, said such steps were “very irregular,” especially for a case of intense public interest. Judge Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee who has written critically about Roe v. Wade and previously worked for a Christian conservative legal organization, told lawyers in a conference call Friday that he did not want the March 15 hearing to be “disrupted,” and that he wanted all parties involved to share their points in an orderly fashion, according to people familiar with the discussion.

Even by the standards of a theocrat judge who owes his current position to the worst president ever, this guy is a piece of work. First of all, clearly, he’d have held court in a compound in Idaho if he could have managed it. He is preparing to land another gut-shot to reproductive freedoms, and he’s preparing to do it surreptitiously, and in Amarillo. But I repeat myself. Anyway, it’s not working very well.

Despite the judge’s request, news organizations learned about the hearing and reported it. Members of groups that support abortion rights are planning to demonstrate outside the court building while the hearing is in progress, including by wearing kangaroo and judge costumes to protest what they consider to be a “kangaroo court” and by driving a truck around the city streets with a billboard that will say “a majority of Americans support abortion access.”

The kangaroo suits are a nice touch, and thanks to the NYT for explaining the gag to us.

He said that the court would provide seating for the public and the press, but his plan to provide little advance notice seemed likely to have the practical effect of minimizing the number of people who would attend, according to people familiar with the discussion. Amarillo, in the Texas Panhandle, is several hours’ drive from other major Texas cities, and only a couple of those cities provide direct flights.

Judge Kacsmaryk comes straight out of the vast conservative judicial nursery. From the Washington Post:

Kacsmaryk, who ascended to the federal bench from the conservative legal group First Liberty Institute, has defended his ability to be impartial in his work as a judge. Nonetheless, many of his recent decisions have been wins for the right, including one that struck down new Biden administration protections for transgender people and another that forced thousands of asylum seekers to return to Mexico while they awaited processing. (Kacsmaryk is also presiding over a lawsuit filed by anti-vaccine activists led by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. accusing several media outlets, including The Washington Post, of colluding to censor their views on coronavirus vaccines.)

The administration already has announced that it will appeal Kacsmaryk’s ruling, fully expecting that he’ll rule against medication abortion. His preposterous attempt to hold this hearing under cover of armadillos does not bode well for the defendants. Judges with stealth capabilities are a whole new thing.

It should be noted that this judge’s previous rulings in favor of conservative causes have come down on the side of shoring up what he sees as personal rights over the intrusion of the government.  Except when he agrees with the big government stomping on a woman’s right to control her own body.  That is how they roll.


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