Judicial activism highlights need for court reform

KacsmarykA recent chain of judicial decisions underscores how the federal courts have been packed with extremists and highlights the need for immediate court reform, asserts the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Last night, the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative bloc upheld an order from a President Trump-appointed judge to reinstate a harsh Trump immigration policy. Trump’s notoriously cruel “Remain in Mexico” policy required those seeking asylum to stay out of the country while their applications were pending, even though doing so needlessly placed them in danger. Trump based the policy on the debunked narrative of people not attending their asylum hearings once they’re in the United States. The cruelty was the point of the Trump policy, which the new administration quickly repealed.

The changing nature of our democracy is precisely why the right-wing Federalist Society wanted to pack the federal judiciary with so many young ideologues, since repealing harsh policies then becomes effectively impossible. In this case, 44-year-old Trump-appointed District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk had the opportunity to forcefully reimpose Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, and that’s what he did despite no credible legal rationale, evidence or support for his decision. Kacsmaryk ordered President Biden to reinstate Trump’s policy within seven days.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, both of which have been packed with Trump judges, declined to stay Kacsmaryk’s order, even though appellate courts normally would do so to maintain the status quo while the case proceeds.

“This is the Supreme Court rubber-stamping a federal district judge dictating policy from the bench,” observes FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The federal government cannot operate when the courts have been so packed with extremists hell-bent on imposing cruel and unpopular politics that are based on fringe religious beliefs. We have a broken court system.”

Kacsmaryk is a perfect example of a young extremist who never should have been confirmed as a federal judge. Prior to his lifetime appointment, Kacsmaryk was general counsel for First Liberty, a virulently anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice outfit that spins Christian persecution narratives and promotes outright Christian nationalism. He idolizes the late Justice Antonin Scalia and prefers a “dead Constitution.” FFRF called on members to oppose Kacsmaryk’s nomination.

The damage done to the federal judiciary through judges like Kacsmaryk — including three U.S. Supreme Court justices — will last a generation or more unless it is swiftly corrected. Trump nominated 274 federal judges, ramming through the nomination process with minimal review. Those judges’ unprecedented youth and radical ideologies mean that they will leave the courts deeply unbalanced for all too many years.

Yesterday’s action by the Supreme Court should be an immediate wake-up call to America. The federal courts have been hijacked — and must be restored. Expanding the number of federal judges is decades overdue, with several federal cases taking many years to complete because there are so few judges.

Congress has the ability to fix this problem by expanding the federal judiciary at every level. Every other avenue of progress will be blocked until our broken court system is addressed. Americans should bombard their members of Congress with calls to fix this miscarriage of justice immediately.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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