The (small) mystery of Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s stocks has been solved (2024)

A Texas federal judge who was concealing the type of stock that he owned from public view has now made that information public — writing that he owns at least $5 million in stock from the supermarket chain Publix, where his grandmother worked for more than 25 years.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who gained national attention after he suspended federal approval of a key abortion drug, told The Washington Post last year that the stock redaction was approved by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts “after reviewing the relevant rules and applicable threats.”

Kacsmaryk is an antiabortion advocate whose 2023 ruling would have removed mifepristone, a medication that is part of a two-drug regimen used to terminate pregnancies in the early stages, from the market. Such medication abortions make up more than 60 percent of all pregnancy terminations in the United States.


The conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit scaled back his ruling, and the U.S. Supreme Court will decide by late June or early July whether to reimpose some restrictions on mifepristone access or leave the current rules in place.

Kacsmaryk’s decision last year to shield information about which stocks he owned came at a time of heightened scrutiny surrounding what members of the federal judiciary, notably Supreme Court justices, can report or omit from their annual disclosure forms.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was facing criticism for not reporting years of luxury vacations, private jet travel and real estate deals he accepted from longtime friend and benefactor Harlan Crow, a Dallas billionaire. Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. has faced scrutiny for not reporting a free trip to a fishing resort in Alaska in 2008.


Top officials from all three branches of government, including federal judges and Supreme Court justices, are required to file annual forms detailing their finances, gifts, outside income and spouses’ sources of income. The Judicial Conference’s Committee on Financial Disclosures, which is made up of 16 federal judges, reviews and approves redaction requests. Judges must renew requests for redactions each year.

According to federal ethics law, a report may be redacted “to prevent public disclosure of personal or sensitive information that could directly or indirectly endanger the filer or a filer’s family member if obtained by a member of the public hostile to the filer or a filer’s family member.”

A spokesperson for the Administrative Office of the Courts, which is overseen by the Judicial Conference, declined to discuss the change in Kacsmaryk’s disclosure form, and the judge’s office did not respond to a request for comment.


But a person familiar with the situation, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss information that has not been made public, said Kacsmaryk requested the redaction to shield identifying information from public view. That information has since been removed, the person said.

Publix is now listed on the disclosure forms for each year that Kacsmaryk has been a judge: 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Public officials are not required to say how or from whom they inherited the stocks listed on their disclosure forms. Kacsmaryk’s paternal grandmother, Mary Lacek Kacsmaryk, who joined Publix early in its history, worked for the Florida-based supermarket chain for more than 25 years, according to her obituary. The supermarket chain has an employee stock purchase plan in which associates can buy shares of Publix stock after one full year of employment, according to the company’s website.


“Anyone who knew Mary K, as she was known at Publix, knew her passion and pride for being a Publix team member,” the May 2017 obituary says.

Federal ethics law lists certain types of information that could be redacted if it would endanger the filer or the filer’s family member, including the names of their spouses’ employers, but notes that “it would be unusual for a request for the redaction of the identity of a stock or other security to be granted.”

Kacsmaryk told lawyers involved in the mifepristone case last spring that his chamber had received a “barrage of death threats” and harassing voice mails since the start of the case. A Florida woman was charged last year with calling his chambers in Amarillo, Tex., and threatening to murder him.

Gabe Roth, executive director of the transparency group Fix the Court, questioned whether the name of the supermarket chain could have been made public in earlier versions of Kacsmaryk’s reports. Roth noted that the judge’s ties to Publix have been widely known and that it was important to list the stock publicly in the event that a case involving the supermarket chain came before him.


“Of course there needs to be a balance between disclosure and redaction, especially with political violence on the rise,” Roth said. “But deploying the judiciary’s redaction authority to black out an investment that’s clearly a major conflict is a misuse of that authority.”

Kacsmaryk has been criticized in the past for not being transparent.

The Post reported last spring that the judge, who has struck down two Biden administration protections for transgender people, did not disclose during his Senate confirmation hearings that he was involved in writing a Texas law review article that criticized Obama-era protections for transgender people and those receiving abortions.

He also took unusual steps last year to keep the timing of a hearing in the mifepristone case from the public until the last minute, hoping to minimize disruptions and public protests.

Ann E. Marimow and Aaron Schaffer contributed to this report.

The (small) mystery of Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s stocks has been solved (2024)


The (small) mystery of Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s stocks has been solved? ›

The (small) mystery of Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk's stocks has been solved. Newly unredacted disclosure forms show the judge owns at least $5 million in stock from the supermarket chain Publix, where his grandmother worked for decades.

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