Maine's Collins to oppose Trump judicial nominee over record opposing gay rights
Sen. Susan Collins said Friday she will oppose one of President Donald Trump's federal judicial nominees over his record opposing LGBTQ rights.
In a statement, the Maine Republican, who faces re-election next year, voiced concerns regarding Matthew Kacsmaryk's "alarming bias against LGBTQ Americans and disregard for Supreme Court precedents."
"Mr. Kacsmaryk has dismissed proponents of reproductive choice as 'sexual revolutionaries,' and disdainfully criticized the legal foundations of Roe v. Wade," the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion, Collins said. "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."
While Collins's opposition is unlikely to derail Kacsmaryk's confirmation to be a district judge in the Northern District of Texas, it is notable given the intense backlash she faced from liberals after voting for the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh last year.
Kacsmaryk, who serves as deputy general counsel to First Liberty Institute, which defends religious freedom issues, was first nominated for the lifetime appointment by Trump in 2017, and had to be renominated this year when the Senate failed to confirm him before the end of the last congressional session.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Kacsmaryk's nomination in January on a party-line vote, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has scheduled a procedural vote on the nomination next week.
Though the attorney has publicly opposed several Supreme Court decisions, in his response to a Judiciary Committee questionnaire, he cited Supreme Court decisions as "superprecedent" or binding over all lower courts. He was specifically asked about Roe v. Wade among other decisions.
From 2008 to 2013, Kacsmaryk served as assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, a role in which he received an award for his service in the interests of national security.
"Matthew Kacsmaryk's lifelong commitment to the rule of law is best exemplified by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder awarding him the 2013 Attorney General's Award of Excellence in Furthering the Interests of U.S. National Security. He will make an excellent federal judge," said Hiram Sasser, First Liberty Institute general counsel, through a spokeswoman.
LGBT and women's rights groups are vehemently opposed to his nomination, describing him as an "anti-LGBT activist," and pointing to instances where he defended discrimination against LGBT people, wrote disparagingly about other gay rights like marriage and called being transgender "a mental disorder."
"His record reveals that he will be incapable of treating LGBT litigants fairly - no matter what body of law is at issue in the cases over which he may preside - because he does not acknowledge LGBT people as having a right to exist," wrote a coalition of 75 organizations in a letter Wednesday to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
Three years ago, Kacsmaryk defended the right of a shop owner to refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple's union in a high-profile case that pitted religious leaders against gay and lesbian activists. In a 2015 op-ed for the National Catholic Register, he wrote that sexual revolutionaries were demolishing the four pillars of marriage law: permanence, exclusivity, procreation and finally "sexual difference and complementarity."
In the article, he noted that "sexual revolutionaries" had made the unborn child and marriage secondary to "erotic desires of liberated adults."
"The catechism holds that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,' 'contrary to the natural law,' and 'do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity,'" he wrote. "This view of human sexuality as male and female stands in stark contrast to the opposing definitions of marriage, sexuality and so-called gender identity promulgated by most LGBT scholars and activists."
He also signed onto a letter that called being transgender "a delusion."
More than 300 parents of transgender children have written a letter to senators opposing Kacsmaryk's nomination.
"To me that is not someone that can be impartial to millions of people in this country who are LGBTQ. That type of demonstrated bias is not 'he was representing someone' or 'he was taken out of context.' This is his worldview. This is his bias. He has not shied away from it," said Kristine Lucius, executive vice president for policy and governmental affairs at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which has organized a campaign against Kacsmaryk's nomination.
Collins, who is a top target for Democrats in 2020, supports same-sex marriage and reproductive rights. But she was criticized by LGBT and women's rights groups when she became one of the deciding votes that secured Kavanaugh's place on the Supreme Court.
At the time, Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin encouraged his members to vote out lawmakers who supported Kavanaugh.
Throughout Trump's tenure, Republicans have made federal court appointments a top priority. As of Friday, the Senate had confirmed 119 federal judges nominated by Trump.
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