In the wake of the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision rejecting the judge-shopped mifepristone challenge, Accountable.US today released a report detailing the key judge-shopped cases — including the mifepristone challenge — originating in Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s courtroom in Northern Texas. Though the Judicial Conference issued nonbinding guidance earlier this year in an attempt to curb judge shopping, the practice continues unabated in Kacsmaryk’s courtroom with four judge-shopped cases added to his docket just over the past two months.

The far-right conservative movement’s manipulation strategy erodes our democracy and our judiciary. In targeting a specific friendly judge — in this case, extreme conservative Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk — right-wing groups like Alliance Defending Freedom and special interests undermine our judicial system and our democracy in order to guarantee a favorable outcome for them while taking away our rights. We need systemic reform to end judge-shopping and stop these anti-democratic practices. Without reform, more judge-shopped cases like these will wind their way through our judicial system, continuing to erode public trust in our courts.”

Accountable.US president Caroline Ciccone

The new Accountable.US review of Judge Kacsmaryk’s docket since January 2021 presents evidence that multiple Republican-led states and right-wing special interests have “judge-shopped” in Amarillo, Texas — targeting the single-judge district as it all but guarantees the case will be heard by Kacsmaryk. In nearly all cases, the plaintiffs or the law firms backing them had only a tenuous connection to the area. Judge Kacsmaryk took up their cases regardless, threatening significant consequences for Americans nationwide.

Since January 2021, fourteen cases — including the mifepristone challenge — have seemingly been “judge-shopped” to Judge Kacsmaryk. Over just the past two months, four cases have been added to Kacsmaryk’s docket — two of which could have been filed in any of Texas’ 28 federal court divisions, yet coincidentally Amarillo was the chosen venue. The cases include:

  • State of Texas v. The United States of America et al: Two University of Texas professors, backed by the Washington D.C.-based America First Legal Foundation, sued the federal government over its recently revised Title IX rules, saying they will not excuse abortion-related class absences.
  • State of Texas et al v. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives et al: Texas convened a coalition of states and Second Amendment groups to sue The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives over a new rule regulating firearm dealers.
  • American Health Care Association et al v. Becerra et al: The American Health Care Association sued the Biden Administration to stop its national staffing requirement for nursing homes.
  • Word et al v. Department of Energy: Two plaintiffs, supported by the anti-regulation group Competitive Enterprise Institute, filed a complaint against the Department of Energy over its enforcement of water efficiency rules for certain consumer appliances.

Read the full report here.

Previous Accountable.US research identified key examples of judge shopping in the Fort Worth division of the Northern District of Texas, multiple of which were brought by plaintiffs with little to no connection to the area simply seeking a favorable outcome. The anti-democratic practice has ramped up in recent years, with the vast majority of the identified cases filed just within the past year.


back to top