Know a Nominee: Lawrence VanDyke to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
Do you support or oppose VanDyke's nomination?
by Countable | 12.10.19
UPDATED - 12/10/19: The Senate voted 53-40 along party-lines to limit further debate on VanDyke's nomination. A confirmation vote will likely occur Wednesday.
The Senate is expected to consider the nomination of Lawrence VanDyke to be a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals this week, beginning with a procedural vote Tuesday and a likely confirmation vote Wednesday. Here’s what you need to know about the nominee:
Who is he?
- Lawrence VanDyke, 46, is a Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Dept. of Justice.
- VanDyke previously served as a Solicitor General for both Nevada and Montana, and litigated numerous cases on behalf of those states before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, state supreme courts, and both state & federal district courts. Prior to that, VanDyke
- He earned his undergraduate degree with highest honors from Montana State University and his law degree with honors from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the law review.
- If confirmed, VanDyke would become the only circuit judge to have served as solicitor general for two states. Both Montana and Nevada are within the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction.
What’s the outlook for his confirmation?
- The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced VanDyke’s nomination on a party-line 12-10 vote, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed.
- The American Bar Association’s judicial nomination rating panel was divided on VanDyke’s nomination, with a substantial majority finding him to be “not qualified” and a minority finding him to be “qualified”.
- The ABA released a letter explaining the rating which said VanDyke lacks “professional competence” and “judicial temperament” despite his resume. It also said VanDyke is “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in the knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules.” It also noted that “Mr. VanDyke would not say affirmatively that he would be fair to any litigant before him, notable members of the LGBTQ community.”
- Supporters of VanDyke have criticized the ABA for its review because its lead evaluator of his nomination, Montana trial attorney Marcia Davenport, previously made a political donation to VanDyke’s opponent when he nominee ran for the Montana Supreme Court in 2014. They also note that Davenport relied in part on testimony from a Montana Justice Dept. official named Michael Black, who also publicly opposed VanDyke’s 2014 state supreme court bid, launched personal attacks against him, and also sought an appointment to the state supreme court in 2014.
- In his confirmation hearing, VanDyke tearfully denied the accusation he would be unfair to members of the LGBTQ community, saying: “I did not say that. 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.” VanDyke also said that during a three-hour meeting with the ABA, his evaluator told him that she was in a “hurry” and didn’t give him an opportunity to fully respond to concerns. The ABA declined to provide a transcript of the relevant portion of the interview when it was requested by the National Review’s John McCormack, citing confidentiality.
What does it mean for the Ninth Circuit?
- VanDyke’s confirmation would fill a position on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that will become vacant on December 31, 2019, when Judge Jay Bybee takes senior status. Bybee’s duty station is in Las Vegas, Nevada.
- The Ninth Circuit has 29 active judgeships. Of the judges on the bench, nine were appointed by Bill Clinton, five by George W. Bush, seven by Barack Obama, and eight by Donald Trump. It currently has no vacancies.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: iStock / imaginima)
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