A Trump judicial nominee “smeared” as unqualified by the American Bar Association advanced to the full Senate after being voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
At a committee business meeting to vote on multiple judicial nominees, Lawrence VanDyke’s nomination to a seat the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals passed out of the Republican-controlled panel on a party-line vote of 12-10.
Ahead of his confirmation hearing last month, VanDyke was attacked by the American Bar Association as “not qualified” for the job. Going a step further, the national lawyers’ group’s letter attacked the nominee’s character, saying that his numerous professional accomplishments “are offset by the assessments of interviewees that Mr. VanDyke is arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules.”
The nominee even broke down in tears during his Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing as he disputed a part of the letter that claimed he “would not say affirmatively that he would be fair to any litigant before him, notably members of the LGBTQ community.”
“I did not say that,” VanDyke told Judiciary Committee member Josh Hawley, R-Mo. “I do not believe that. It is a fundamental belief of mine that all people are created in the image of God. They should all be treated with dignity and respect.”
In an interview with Blaze Media following VanDyke’s confirmation hearing, Judiciary Committee member Mike Lee, R-Utah, said that due to the ABA’s history of liberal bias, lawmakers ought to reconsider its privileged role in the judicial confirmation process. Committee member Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called the ABA’s move an attempt “to smear the qualifications of an impressive and qualified judicial nominee.”
Constitutional law professor Josh Blackman later explained that the ABA broke its own rules in how it put the evaluation together.
Ahead of Thursday’s vote, VanDyke’s law school friend Jesse Panuccio penned an op-ed in the nominee’s defense, saying, “For those of us who really know VanDyke — know him far better than the ABA’s vetter — the ABA’s accusations were as stunning as they were defamatory.”
So what are VanDyke’s qualifications? According to his bio, he currently serves as a deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department and previously served a term as Nevada’s solicitor general. Before that, he was Montana’s solicitor general. He also graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School.