Judge Michael J. McShane: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

(VoteSmart) Judge Michael McShane

Judge Michael McShane is the US District Judge in Oregon who has said he’ll issue an injunction against new regulations that prohibit federally funded clinics from referring patients to abortion providers. Oregon was one of many states to bring a lawsuit against the federal government over the new rules. On Tuesday night, McShane signalled that he’d issue an injunction against the rule within the next few days.

McShane called the new rules “ham fisted “ and said the regulations would stop doctors from behaving like medical professionals and acting in the best interests of their patients. He added that the new rules would leave low income with less access to reproductive healthcare and would probably result in more abortions, not fewer, being performed.

McShane said he didn’t want to impose a nation-wide injunction against the new federal rules, saying that he didn’t want to make a decision on national healthcare policy. Here’s what you need to know about Judge Michael McShane:


1. He Was Appointed to the District Court by Obama in 2012

McShane began his career as a public defender, and then went on to serve for 11 years as a circuit judge for Multnomah County, Oregon. In 2012, President Obama nominated him to take over an empty spot on the federal district court in Eugene, Oregon. McShane was 51 at the time. His fellow judges said that both District Attorneys and public defenders admired McShane and sought him out to work with.

“Widely known for his service to the community, he has made Oregon a better place,” said Senator Jeff Merkley. Also in 2012, McShane was scheduled to receive the 2012 Oregon State Bar President’s Public Service Award. He was nominated for that award by his colleagues.

McShane was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and earned his BA from Gonzaga University. He went on to earn his law degree from Lewis and Clark College, Northwestern University. McShane first moved to Portland, Oregon in 1983, when he was serving as a volunteer working with homeless people through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. After graduating from law school, he went to work as a public defender in Portland.

2. He Struck Down Oregon’s Ban on Same-Sex Marriage in 2014

Hundreds of jubilant couples rushed to get married in Oregon shortly after noon, when a federal judgHundreds of jubilant couples rushed to get married in Oregon shortly after noon, when a federal judge struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Within minutes of Judge Michael McShane's ruling, county clerks across the state started issuing marriage licenses. In Portland, some couples lined up for their licenses more than four hours before McShane released his opinion. McShane's opinion came a decade after voters amended the Oregon Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Four same-sex couples challenged the ban last year. In February, state Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said she would not defend the ban in court, citing last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down key parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Not everyone celebrated the ruling. The Oregon Catholic Conference issued a statement saying "authentic marriage remains what it has always and only been according to God's design: the loving union between one man and one woman for the mutual benefit of the two who have become one flesh and any children born of their union." You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/7ac3aa8ec4994e2113fa3152b5cd9221 Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork2015-08-03T11:27:45.000Z

In 2014, McShane issued a ruling that would end Oregon State’s ban on same-sex marriage, which he said violated the US Constitution. His decision was applauded by LGBT-rights groups and was slammed by some conservatives, who said that he had issued the ruling from a “kangaroo court.” In his ruling, McShane wrote, “There is no legitimate state interest that would justify the denial of the full and equal recognition, attendant rights, benefits, protections, privileges, obligations, responsibilities and immunities of marriage to same-gender couples.”

McShane, an Obama appointee, is the only openly gay federal judge in Oregon.


3. McShane Once Penned a Tribute to the ‘First Gay Friends’ He Had as a Young Man

Michael McShane is the only openly gay federal judge in Oregon. In 2018, McShane wrote an article for the Advocate, musing about his path to the bench. The essay — “I Will Never Forget My First Gay Friends” — is a loving tribute to the group of friends he had when he moved to Portland, Oregon in the early 1980s. McShane describes the lifestyle of the young men:

“We spent most of our nights (weekend or otherwise) drinking in whatever gay club was advertising the best drink specials and willing to look past Scott’s fake ID. On Sunday night it was 50-cent schnapps at Slaughters; on Monday it was two-for-one well drinks at the Embers. It went on like that all week in various venues where we and a hundred other budding alcoholics would meet and sometimes dance and sometimes talk and mostly try to get laid.” When they got tired of hanging out in bars, the group of friends started a book club — the Alice B. Toklas Society — which was part reading club, part emotional support network.

All four of McShane’s close friends died of AIDS. McShane writes that was the only one of his group of friends who survived, going on to have a successful career and a happy life — a life, he says, which “still feels to me a place less built than given, profoundly so through the blessings of those who left me years ago.”


4. McShane Once Took off His Shoes & Gave Them to a Defendant in Court

In 2006, McShane was presiding over the trial of a man named Satya Dasa who was accused on stabbing his wife’s lover to death. At the start of the trial, the defendant, Dasa, said he wasn’t ready to start yet, claiming that his shoes were too tight. McShane asked Dasa what size he wore and Dasa said that he was a size 10. That’s when McShane took off his own shoes and offered them to Dasa. Dasa accepted.

“I gave him my shoes, and I sat there in my socks,” McShane later said, describing the incident.


5. McShane Lives With His Domestic Partner & Is Helping to Raise His Nephew

According to the Oregonian, McShane adopted a son, now in his early twenties, who had come from an abusive home. McShane was living with a different partner at that time. McShane now lives with a partner named Gregory Ford, and is helping to raise Ford’s nephew.