The federal judge presiding over a crucial case that could determine the future of the abortion pill in the U.S. requested attorneys not to publicize the date of a crucial hearing, telling them that “less advertisement is better,” citing death threats and harassing phone calls.
Oral arguments were scheduled for Wednesday morning during a telephone conference on Friday with the case’s attorneys by Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the U.S. Northern District of Texas. However, Kacsmaryk asked the lawyers to withhold news of the hearing due to security reasons.
Trump Appointed Kacsmaryk
Kacsmaryk reportedly told the lawyers, “And because of limited security resources and staffing, I will ask that the parties avoid further publicizing the date of the hearing,” according to a court transcript of the conference call.
“This is not a gag order but just a request for courtesy given the death threats and harassing phone calls and voicemails that this division has received,” the judge said.
Given the death threats, threatening phone calls, and harassing voicemails this division has received, the judge explained that this was not a gag order but a courtesy request.
“We want a fluid hearing with all parties being heard. I think less advertisement of this hearing is better,” Kacsmaryk said, adding that he didn’t want an “unnecessary circus-like atmosphere.”
Trump appointed Kacsmaryk to the court in 2019. Democrats and pro-abortion Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine opposed his appointment. Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign criticized his nomination. The Alliance Defending Freedom, Danco Laboratories, and Justice Department lawyers participated in the Friday conference call.
An attorney from the Justice Department, Julie Straus Harris, asked the judge whether the date of the hearing would be made public on the court docket. Kacsmaryk responded that he would make it public on Tuesday but it “may even be after business hours,” shortly before the Wednesday morning hearing.
The judge has set oral arguments in the case for 9 a.m. CT at the U.S. courthouse in Amarillo, Texas. The hearing will be open to the public. The Washington Post first reported that Kacsmaryk wanted to delay public disclosure of the hearing, citing people familiar with the matter.
Although Kacsmaryk sought to delay publicizing the date of the hearing until late Tuesday, media outlets sent a letter to the court Monday urging the judge to immediately disclose the date. The court disclosed the date of the hearing on the docket later that afternoon.
Rob Legare tweeted that attorneys have asked. You can take a look below:
Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes ordered to DC.
Texas judge officially orders US Marshals to transport him to DC to face trial for seditious conspiracy + other charges.
His attorneys have asked DC Judge Mehta to keep him in Texas to aid in trial prep.https://t.co/pom85tLXEM pic.twitter.com/zM4wuTS5EO
— Rob Legare (@RobLegare) February 1, 2022
The Washington Post, ProPublica, the Texas Press Association, and Gannett were among the media outlets. Media outlets sent the letter through Southern Methodist University’s First Amendment Clinic at the Dedman School of Law’s Peter Steffensen.
“The Court’s attempt to delay notice of and, therefore, limit the ability of members of the public, including the press, to attend Wednesday’s hearing is unconstitutional, and undermines the important values served by public access to judicial proceedings and court records,” Steffensen wrote.
In November, the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, a group of anti-abortion doctors, asked Kacsmaryk to order the FDA to withdraw its approval of mifepristone. Mifepristone was FDA-approved in 2000.
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June, the abortion pill has become the central issue in the abortion rights debate. Mifepristone and misoprostol are used in half of all U.S. abortions.
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The Alliance Defending Freedom, which drafted Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization’s law with Mississippi lawmakers, represents the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine. The Supreme Court ruled that abortion rights were unconstitutional. In a January court filing, Biden administration lawyers called the mifepristone FDA approval case “unprecedented.”
Government lawyers warned that overturning the FDA approval of mifepristone would remove the pill from the market, harming the public interest. They said mifepristone users would suffer. The lawyers said the FDA’s scientific drug approval authority would also be weakened.
“If longstanding FDA drug approvals were so easily enjoined, even decades after being issued, pharmaceutical companies would be unable to confidently rely on FDA approval decisions to develop the pharmaceutical-drug infrastructure that Americans depend on to treat a variety of health conditions,” the Biden administration lawyers wrote.
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