The Senate officially voted to confirm Lawrence VanDyke to serve as a Ninth Circuit appeals court judge, despite being rated as “not qualified” by the American Bar Association (ABA) over concerns about his alleged treatment of LGBTQ+ individuals.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joined Democrats in opposing his nomination in a 51-44 vote.
VanDyke, a former solicitor general in both Nevada and Montana, made headlines in October when he began to cry during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee when he was asked about concerns that the ABA brought forth about his treatment of LGBT people.
“I did not say that,” he said, fighting through tears. “I do not believe that. It is a fundamental belief of mine that all people are created in the image of God, and they should all be treated with dignity and respect.”
The ABA issued its “not qualified” rating following an investigation that included interviews with 60 individuals.
“Mr. VanDyke’s 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 ABA wrote in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“There was a theme that the nominee lacks humility, has an ‘entitlement’ temperament, does not have an open mind, and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful,” the ABA standing committee continued, noting that some interviewees “raised concerns about whether Mr. VanDyke would be fair to persons who are gay, lesbian, or otherwise part of the LGBTQ community.”
HuffPost notes: “More than 200 national civil and human rights groups opposed VanDyke, citing his record of attacking LGBTQ rights (he claimed in a 2004 Harvard Law Record article that same-sex families hurt children and that LGBTQ people are deviant) and arguing against women’s reproductive rights (as Montana’s solicitor general, he submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of Arizona’s 20-week abortion ban and asked the justices to reconsider Roe v. Wade).”
“Mr. VanDyke’s temperament and integrity have been called into question by his colleagues and the American Bar Association, which rated him ‘not qualified’ for the federal bench. And Mr. VanDyke’s record … is far outside the mainstream,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said VanDyke is “unqualified even in comparison to some of the worst nominees we’ve seen under this administration.”
“Please reject this nominee. He is so unqualified. He’s a low human being, at least according to all of this, and he’ll have a lifetime appointment on a circuit bench?” Schumer added.
Sasha Buchert, Senior Attorney at Lambda Legal, issued the following statement: “Lawrence VanDyke’s confirmation represents the latest affront to the LGBT community by an administration that appears to revel in its disdain for LGBT people and our families. As outlined in our letter of opposition, Mr. VanDyke’s long history of working to diminish the civil rights of the LGBT community renders it wholly implausible that he is capable of administering fair and impartial justice. In fact, it is precisely this concern that led the American Bar Association (ABA) to rate him as ‘Not Qualified’ for this lifetime position of public trust. For our legal system to have credibility, people must have confidence that judges will follow the facts and the law, and yet Mr. VanDyke has refused to disavow his prior statements promoting harmful and unfounded myths about LGBT people, including the long-since discredited notion that marriage equality will somehow ‘hurt families, and consequently children and society.’ And yet, once again, Senate Republicans have chosen to advance another dangerous ideologue to a position that he will occupy for decades to come. It is impossible to overstate the damage that is being done to the credibility of our system of justice by the confirmation of judges like Lawrence VanDyke. Particularly on days like today, we call on all people who believe in equal justice under law to make their voices heard and demand better from their elected representatives in Washington.”
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights writes: “Mr. VanDyke has represented, given speeches to, and worked as a legal intern for the homophobic Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization so extreme that it has been designated as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Alliance Defending Freedom has defended proposed laws to require sterilization of transgender individuals seeking to change their name and gender on their birth certificate, and they have defended criminalizing same-sex sexual activity. Mr. VanDyke’s deep and lasting ties to this fringe organization demonstrate his acceptance of its radical agenda.”