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The Northern District of Texas has declined to implement a policy aimed at curbing “judge shopping”, thereby preserving the influence of Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, known for his rulings on‌ “Mifepristone”.

Need for Legislation

For the federal judiciary to function as ⁣a judicial body rather than a tool used by conservatives against women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and the ⁤environment, ⁢legislation is necessary.‌ Blue-ribbon committees, ‍agency guidelines, congressional hearings, polite requests, and strongly worded letters have proven ineffective against the extremist ‍judges appointed ‍by Donald Trump or the conservative judges emboldened by their example. Even legislation might not be ‍sufficient, given the Republican-controlled Supreme ⁣Court’s ability to overturn legislation it disagrees with. However, anything less than legislation is entirely futile.

Case of the Northern District of Texas

The latest evidence⁤ of this comes from ‌the Northern District of Texas. ⁤The⁢ chief judge of this court recently rejected⁣ a rule proposed by‌ the Judicial ​Conference. This rule was designed to ‍prevent “judge shopping”, a practice that allows litigants to essentially⁢ choose their judge by filing lawsuits in certain districts. In Texas,⁣ judges are not assigned randomly but based on the courthouse ⁢where a case is filed.

Role of Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk

In the Northern District of Texas, if​ a case is filed in Amarillo, litigants are certain to draw Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk. Kacsmaryk, a Trump-appointed Christian fundamentalist, is known‌ for his extreme views and ⁢rulings. He is vehemently‌ anti-LGBTQ,‍ opposes reproductive rights, and is‍ willing to embrace any legal theory that ⁢brings him his desired outcomes. Kacsmaryk is the primary legal threat ⁤to the medical abortion ⁣pill mifepristone, as he ⁣is⁢ the judge who granted a group of doctors and dentists standing to challenge ‌the Food and Drug Administration in a case they should have had ⁤no right to⁤ bring. The Supreme Court is currently deliberating that case.

Impact of‍ Judicial Conference’s New ​Rule

The Judicial⁣ Conference’s new rule requires all districts, including​ Kacsmaryk’s, to make random assignments for all cases where the litigants​ seek a “nationwide injunction”. ⁢These are significant cases where the plaintiffs are trying to get a single district court judge to stop a law (or ban a product) for the entire country. The new ⁣rule would prevent conservative groups from ⁣planting their cases before Kacsmaryk and instead make ‌them draw from the entire pool of Northern District of Texas judges,​ a group that includes many‌ conservatives but not all as extreme as Kacsmaryk.

Resistance to the New Rule

Despite the rule essentially coming from⁤ the chief ‍justice ⁢of the Supreme Court, the Northern District of Texas simply said “no.” David Godbey, Kacsmaryk’s boss and chief judge‍ of the Northern District of Texas, responded to a letter from Senate majority leader⁢ Charles Schumer urging him to adopt⁢ the new rule with a⁣ letter⁣ of his own, essentially rejecting the new rule. Godbey can and will get away with this flat rejection of the new rule because the Judicial Conference’s ​administrative guidelines are simply ‍that: ⁣guidelines. The power to implement‌ these recommendations remains squarely with Congress.

If Democrats want to have ⁣a ⁢say in this, they ‌need to⁢ pass a bill. Senator Mazie Hirono introduced ⁢one last⁤ year called the “Stop Judge Shopping Act” ‌which would do through legislation exactly what⁤ the Judicial Conference attempted to do through guidance. However, it went nowhere in the⁢ Senate. If‌ Democrats want to stop people like Kacsmaryk, they need to pass legislation, rally public support behind the legislation, and explain to⁤ the people why it’s needed. They⁤ need⁤ to lead, or⁤ get⁤ out ​of​ the way.

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