In the Courts

Washington Post Misses Key Detail In Story On Abortion Pills Case Judge

A Washington Post story alleging Northern District of Texas judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who recently ruled to suspend access to the abortion pill, took his name off a law review article misses the fact that he did not write the article, The Washington Free Beacon reported.

The Post claims in an April 15 story that Kacsmaryk, at the time deputy general counsel for First Liberty Institute, removed his name from a 2017 law review article on religious exemptions for abortion and transgender surgeries ahead of his nomination to federal court. But other attorneys at First Liberty note Kacsmaryk only supervised the attorneys who wrote the article rather than writing it himself, The Washington Free Beacon reported.

Kacsmaryk primarily acted as a liaison connecting the attorneys who wrote the article to the journal, which he had ties to as a former law student at the University of Texas, the Beacon reported. His research assistant, attorney Stephanie Taub, said she drafted the article along with attorney Justin Butterfield, but put Kacsmaryk’s name on the paper because she “assumed [she] was ghostwriting it for him.”

First Liberty spokesman Hiram Sasser previously told the Post that Kacsmaryk’s name was only used as a placeholder. The Post’s director of communications Azhar AlFadl Miranda pointed out to the Beacon that “responses from the First Liberty Institute are captured in our story” when asked questions about the reporting.

Furthermore, even if Kacsmaryk had written the article, legal ethics experts interviewed by the Beacon said it was a “common practice” for nominees to step back from publishing and giving speeches while they are being considered for nomination to the federal bench.

“Our advice to nominees was to wind down their practices and not publish or give speeches while they were being considered for a federal appointment, even if they had made plans to do so up to that point,” Bethany Pickett, who worked under former president Donald Trump in the Office of Legal Policy in the Department of Justice, told the Beacon.

Carissa Hessick, a University of North Carolina legal ethicist who disagrees with Kacsmaryk on abortion, told the Beacon the practice is not “unusual or strange” or a violation of judicial ethics. “I know of other nominees—not for President Trump—who have taken their names off articles upon being nominated,” she said.

The Washington Post did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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