The Freedom From Religion Foundation is strongly opposing President Trump's two just-announced nominations of theocratic zealots for Texas federal judgeships. Both attorneys are connected to the First Liberty Institute, an extremist Christian legal outfit that supports a religious right to discriminate.
Jeff Mateer, of Texas, nominated to be U.S. district judge for the Eastern District of Texas, was formerly general counsel and vice president of the First Liberty Institute. He recently became second in command at the Texas Attorney General's office, which has a cozy relationship with First Liberty Institute. Matthew Kacsmaryk, deputy general counsel at First Liberty Institute, also of Texas, would become U.S. district judge for the Northern District of Texas, if approved.
A lawsuit by FFRF and the ACLU prevailed against Liberty Institute in Jackson, Ohio, when it argued that a portrait of Jesus could remain in a public school. That bad legal advice, so clearly contrary to longstanding law, cost the school nearly $100,000. The group just lost a case before the Ninth Circuit, arguing that public school coaches have the right to impose their religion on student athletes, in violation of longstanding legal precedent protecting a captive audience of students from proselytization.
Liberty Institute's rabidly anti-LGBTQ record includes defending the Oregon bakers, who argued religious convictions allow them to discriminate against gay patrons, in a case the institute has lost at every level. Mateer even argued that state officials could and should defy the Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage, writing an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News defending such a rogue order by the state attorney general.
Mateer, Kacsmaryk and First Liberty are the fanatical vanguard of a concerted attempt to redefine "religious freedom" to mean Americans may deny civil liberties to other Americans on the basis of religion. The free exercise clause of the First Amendment was not intended to be a weapon to allow religionists to impose their religion on others.
This duo should not be rewarded with federal judgeships, which are powerful lifetime positions, where they would wreak havoc for decades upon our secular Constitution, the First Amendment and civil liberties. Americans concerned with the creeping theocracy of the Religious Right must oppose these shocking nominations.
FFRF will be providing information to the Senate Judiciary Committee in coming weeks to ensure its members are aware of Mateer's and Kacsmaryk's reprehensible record of allegiance not to our Constitution, but to a theocratic agenda.