The Justice Department asked a federal judge in Washington for “clarification” after he handed down a ruling Friday at odds with one out of Texas — and just 20 minutes after the Texas decision.
Eastern District of Washington Judge Thomas Rice ruled Friday that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has to maintain the “status quo” in keeping the drug available for the states involved in the case. A coalition of Democratic attorneys general had filed suit to lift some of the long-time restrictions that make mifepristone singularly hard to access, and which the medical community has long opposed as political and not medical in nature.
Minutes before, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk out of the northern district of Texas stayed the FDA’s approval of the drug nationwide (a ruling that will go into effect after a seven-day delay). The two decisions were forced into conflict, and the issue will likely reach the Supreme Court.
On Monday, the government lawyers involved in the Washington case — where they oppose the bid to get the FDA to lift all of mifepristone’s restrictions — asked the judge for clarification.
“The result of that order appears to be in significant tension with this Court’s order prohibiting FDA from ‘altering the status quo and rights as it relates to the availability of Mifepristone’ in Plaintiff States,” the lawyers write of Kacsmaryk’s decision. “The Court did not address the interaction between the two orders, presumably because they were issued less than 20 minutes apart. To ensure that Defendants comply with all court orders in these unusual circumstances, Defendants respectfully request that this Court clarify their obligations under its preliminary injunction in the event that the Alliance order takes effect and stays the approval of mifepristone.”
The Biden administration immediately appealed Kacsmaryk’s decision to the ultra-conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. If the Fifth Circuit upholds Kacsmaryk’s decision, or declines to put it on hold while the case proceeds, the administration will likely ask the Supreme Court to intervene.
Read the newest filing here: