In Pride Month, Senate Poised to Confirm Texas Judge Who Defended Bakery That Turned Away Gay Couple

WASHINGTON -- Matthew Kacsmaryk, a conservative Plano-based lawyer who signed onto a letter calling transgender people delusional, is closer to clinching a lifetime federal judgeship in Texas after clearing a preliminary Senate vote on Tuesday.Gay rights groups and others have raised an outcry over the nomination, accusing him of bias during a career as a conservative legal advocate.Kacsmaryk has worked at First Liberty Institute with Jeff Mateer, an even more controversial Trump judicial pick who was forced to withdraw his nomination in December 2017 after revelations that he had called transgender children part of “Satan’s plan.”The Senate voted 52-44 to clear the path for confirmation, almost entirely along party lines.Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn supported the pick, which has drawn widespread backlash from LGBT groups. Last week, 75 such groups sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging rejection of the “anti-LGBT activist.”Kacsmaryk has voiced opposition to several Supreme Court decisions, including Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage in 2015.He represented an Oregon bakery, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, that refused to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, and in a similar case, First Liberty filed a brief supporting the Colorado bakery involved in a major Supreme Court ruling last year.Trump first nominated Kacsmaryk, the deputy general counsel at First Liberty, in September 2017. The nomination died when the last congressional session ended, and Trump resubmitted his name to the Senate on Jan. 23.In February, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Kacsmaryk 12-10.The American Bar Association rated him as “qualified,” the second-best ranking, below “well qualified.”Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who was at the center of a firestorm last year for voting to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, was the only Republican to vote against Kacsmaryk.“Mr. Kacsmaryk has dismissed proponents of reproductive choice as ‘sexual revolutionaries,’ and disdainfully criticized the legal foundations of Roe v. Wade,” the landmark case legalizing abortion, Collins said in a statement. “Such extreme statements reflect poorly on Mr. Kacsmaryk’s temperament and suggest an inability to respect precedent and to apply the law fairly and impartially.”Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, also criticized the pick, and called it especially offensive for Republicans to schedule the vote during LGBTQ Pride Month. “Kacsmaryk has not been shy about his hostility to marriage equality and transgender Americans,” he said in a statement.Kacsmaryk would fill a bench in Amarillo that has been vacant since February 2016, when Judge Mary Lou Robinson took senior status, a form of working retirement.California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, rebuked Kacsmaryk following Tuesday’s vote. “Mr. Kacsmaryk’s long record of opposing civil rights protections for LGBT Americans should disqualify him from service on the bench. They demonstrate that he puts his personal opinion above Supreme Court precedent,” she said in a statement.Liberal advocacy groups have condemned the Texas attorney."Matthew Kacsmaryk has devoted his legal career to undermining the rights of his fellow Americans, especially LGBTQ people and women. He has expressed attitudes toward the LGBTQ community that are deeply offensive and leave no doubt that any LGBTQ individual entering his courtroom would be in hostile territory,” Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron said in a statement.“He has been vociferous in his opposition to same-sex marriage, legal protections for gender identity and sexual orientation, and the basic humanity of transgender people,” Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said in a statement. “To be qualified for the bench, every nominee must demonstrate a commitment to equality under the law.”  Continue reading...

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