Meet the Federal Judge Who's Dropping Sass All Over the Plan B Debate


Consistently no-bullshit Federal Judge Edward Korman flat-out denied the government’s request to stay his order pending an appeal to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals today, calling the administration’s appeal of a federal court order to make emergency contraception fiiinally over-the-counter for all women “frivolous” and “taken for the purpose of delay.” Korman has always had quite the way with words, especially when he’s fighting for women’s health. Here are some of his most scathing one-liners and damning diatribes about why all women should have access to the morning-after pill. For fuck’s sake.

‘There’s nothing wrong with judicial activism if what you’re actively enforcing is really in the Constitution or a statute,” Korman recently told the New York Law Journal. That’s exactly what the 70-year-old judge has been doing while fighting the White House’s overly cautious and paternalistic stance on emergency contraception. Korman’s mad as hell, and his comments — sometimes droll, sometimes dripping with sarcasm, sometimes aggressive — have made the ridiculous controversy over whether all women should have access to a medication that’s safer than aspirin a lot easier (and more fun) to bear.

From today’s decision:

Korman isn’t afraid to tell Sebelius how he really feels:

“Thus, if a stay is denied, the public can have confidence that the FDA’s judgment is being vindicated, and if a stay is granted, it will allow the bad-faith, politically motivated decision of Secretary Sebelius, who lacks any medical or scientific expertise, to prevail—thus justifiably undermining the public’s confidence in the drug approval process.”

Hey Girl. Korman appreciates your brain:

“The defendants also argue that “if the status of these drugs is changed and later reversed, it can lead to situations in which women mistakenly believe that they can obtain the drug without a prescription or at certain locations where it used to be available, but is no longer.” Defs.’ Br. at 13. This argument assumes that defendants have a likelihood of success on the merits, an issue that I will shortly address, and is largely an insult to the intelligence of women.

Korman’s no spring chicken:

“A remand would thus be futile. More significantly, I have been there and done that.”


“The motion for a stay pending the appeal is denied. Indeed, in my view, the defendants’ appeal is frivolous and is taken for the purpose of delay.”

From a Public Hearing on May 2nd, during which the government’s counsel pretended that the decision to make Plan B One-Step available to teens 15 and older was totally unrelated to the subsequent appeal:

We love when Kormen gets sarcastic:

“Yes, tell me about the public interest. Is there a public interest in unwanted pregnancies? Which can often result in abortions? Is there a public interest in that?”

And we love when he exposes political charades:

“you know, we have this little choreography here. First the President makes a speech to Planned Parenthood and throws them a kiss. The next day [note: actually a few days], in an application that was filed on March 9, 2012, the next day you grant their application to give it to people over 15. And the next day you file your notice of appeal and you say, oh, this was entirely separate. No it didn’t have anything to do with it.”

Korman’s also great at expressing disappointment (here he’s explaining why he initially wanted to wait for the administration to make the drug widely available based on scientific evidence, instead of politics. BECAUSE HE HAD FAITH!):

“…because new administration was coming into office which I thought would be different from the administration that left and it turns out that the same policies that President Bush followed were followed by President Obama.”

Some quick one-liners:

“I mean, you’re just playing games here.”
“This is a phony argument”
“You have absolutely no credibility.”
“This has got to be one of the most unusual administrative law cases I’ve ever seen.”
“That’s what happens when you let politicians instead of scientists make these decisions.”


“And the bottom line is is that it’s not possible to provide the data on 11 year olds and 12 year olds. That’s the bottom line. And that’s what the FDA found and if that’s going to be the decision of the Secretary – and by the way, if it were possible to somehow separate it out, it wouldn’t make a difference to me. The issue is you’re using these 11 and 12 year olds to place undue burdens on the ability of older women to get this emergency contraceptive.”

Coming in for the kill:

“You’re basically disadvantaging poor people, young people, and African Americans. That’s what you’re doing. That’s the policy of the Obama Administration?”

For good measure, here’s one of our favorites from a four-hour April 27th hearing:

BECKENHAUER: Judge, I know the hour is getting late. Can I just respond to two things?
THE COURT: The sun doesn’t set until much later this time of year.

Judge Korman, we love you.

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