(CNN) The federal district judge who first halted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the so-called abortion pill mifepristone failed to disclose during the Senate confirmation process two Christian radio interviews in which he discussed social issues such as contraception and gay rights.
In undisclosed radio interviews, Matthew Kaczmarik referred to being gay as “a way of life” and expressed concern that new norms for “people who experience same-sex attraction” would clash with religious institutions, calling it the latest shift in sexual norms that began with “no-fault divorce” and “permissive contraception policies.”
Kacsmaryk, a Trump-appointed federal district judge, made the unreported comments in two 2014 appearances on Chosen Generation, a radio show that offers a “biblical constitutional worldview.” At the time, Kacsmaryk was deputy general counsel at the First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit religious liberty advocacy group known before 2016 as the Liberty Institute, and was brought on the radio show to discuss the “homosexual agenda” to silence churches and religious freedom, according to the host of the show.
Candidates for federal judges must submit detailed documentation to the Senate Judiciary Committee before the confirmation process, including copies of nearly everything they’ve ever written or said publicly, so the committee can assess the nominee’s qualifications and personal opinions. None of the interviews were listed in documents Kacsmaryk provided to the Senate during the judicial nomination process, which first began in 2017.
The radio interviews were not included in the 22 media works disclosed by Kacsmaryk, which included three radio appearances and 19 written materials.
A spokesman for Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told CNN the interviews were not in their archived files from Kacsmaryk’s confirmation, which includes all documents filed for his nomination.
In a statement sent to CNN, Kacsmaryk said he did not find the interview when he searched for media outlets to disclose and did not recall the interview.
“I used the DOJ-OLP manual to do a search for all the media, but I didn’t find that interview and I didn’t recall that event involving a call-in to a local radio show,” he told CNN. “After listening to the audio file provided by CNN, I agree that the content is equivalent to the legal analysis appearing in my SJQ and discussed at length during my Senate confirmation hearing. Additionally, the transcript provided by CNN appears to track the audio and accurately count my responses during the phone call — when quoted in full.”
The Washington Post reported last week that Kacsmaryk removed his name in 2017 from a pending law review article criticizing protections for transgender people and those seeking abortions during the judicial nomination process, a highly unusual move for a judicial nominee .
Kacsmaryk did not respond to the Post’s request for comment, but a spokesman for his old employer First Liberty said Kacsmaryk’s name was a “placeholder” in the article and that Kacsmaryk did not provide “substantial input,” even though the final version was nearly identical to the one sent on behalf of Kacsmaryk according to the Post.
Later in 2019, Kacsmaryk sent the commission additional material to reflect interviews and events he participated in in 2017, but none of the radio interviews from 2014 were included.
Democratic senators criticized Kaczmarik for his positions on abortion and LGBTQ rights both during his nomination hearing and in written questions in 2017.
While Kacsmaryk worked at First Liberty, one of his colleagues, General Counsel Jeff Mather, was also nominated for a federal judgeship. But Mather came under scrutiny in 2017 for comments uncovered during his confirmation process in which he once compared the United States to Nazi Germany on The Chosen Generation — the same radio program on which Kacsmaryk appeared and whose interviews he did not disclose.
Mateer’s nomination was later revoked; Kacsmaryk was confirmed later in 2019.
The interviews were shared by Kacsmaryk’s employer, Liberty Institute, on social media at the time. A guest from First Liberty appears once a week, according to the show’s radio host in the show and archives available online.
In a February 2014 interview, in response to a question about the “homosexual agenda”, Kaczmarik expressed concern that new social norms around “same-sex marriage” and “same-sex attraction” would lead to clashes with religious institutions.
“I just want to make it clear that people who experience same-sex attraction are not individually or solely responsible for the atmosphere of the sexual revolution,” Kaczmarik said. “You know it. Its been a long time. It came after the no-fault divorce. It came after we introduced many permissive policies on contraception. The sexual revolution went through several phases. We just happen to be in the phase where sex marriage is now at the fore.”
“But through that progression or regression, I think you can see five areas where there will be a clash of absolutes between the traditional Judeo-Christian understanding of marriage and the revisionist, redefined vision of marriage that you’ve seen in the Supreme Court opinions of the last term, ” he said, before outlining those areas as tax-exempt status, adoption services, federal government programs and university discrimination.
He appeared on the program to discuss the federal government’s views on same-sex marriage and its opponents following the court ruling overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. The host suggested that opponents of same-sex marriage could be seen as “hostile” enemies of the government in line with Al Qaeda, which Kaczmarik agreed with.
“Yes, and I can speak from immediate first-hand experience,” he said, citing his previous work at the Justice Department. “It is now very fashionable in the federal government to characterize opposition to same-sex marriage and related issues as irrational prejudice at best and a potential hate crime at worst,” he continued.
“It’s really galvanized the entire federal service from top to bottom because the administration has announced that it’s going to join this culture war, that there’s one side that’s destined to win, and that you’re on the wrong side of history in the federal government if you are on the opposing side,” he added.
Kacsmaryk also appeared on the program in July 2014 to discuss an executive order signed by then-President Barack Obama that prohibited federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity, which did not exempt religious groups.
Kacsmaryk attributed the shift in Democrats’ views on religious freedom to “the emergence of this very powerful constituency in the LGBT community,” which he said the Obama administration has made campaign promises to fulfill. Kacsmaryk said religious organizations that contract with the federal government would be at risk under the executive order and face a “real burden” for disagreeing with the “new sexual orthodoxy” on gay rights.
The new rules, Kacsmaryk suggested, were poorly written and did not distinguish between gays who lived “celibate” lives and those who made gayness a “lifestyle,” in a discussion about how religious groups would accommodate the new rules.
“If you look at the letter issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, they indicate that the category of sexual orientation is problematic because it is not defined,” he said. “Most Abrahamic religious traditions will distinguish between someone who has the same sexual attraction but is willing to live celibate, and someone who has the same sexual attraction and makes it a lifestyle and seeks to sexualize that lifestyle.” These are two distinct categories that most Abrahamic Faith Traditions recognize.”