Leftist Attacks Reduce Trump Judicial Nominee to Tears During Confirmation Hearing


Sometimes it’s difficult to have sympathy for a judicial nominee who breaks down in tears during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Politics is a bloodsport, after all, and the judicial branch — at least during the confirmation process — has become increasingly politicized.

Anyone who has to endure it should probably realize they’re not walking into the chummy hearings of old. They’re heading into a cauldron.

In the case of Lawrence VanDyke, however, you understand — and feel for the guy.

VanDyke is a Trump nominee for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who was rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Association. The ABA wrote in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee that, in its interviews, 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.”

“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 letter read.

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While this would have been a red flag in the days of old, the ABA has become notoriously political in their ratings. VanDyke, after all, currently works in the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, according to USA Today, and has previously served as a solicitor general in both Nevada and Montana. Even the ABA’s letter stated that he “is a highly educated lawyer with nearly 14 years of experience in appellate law.”

And then there was another issue that popped up in the ABA’s review: VanDyke’s relationship with the LGBT community.

“Some interviewees raised concerns about whether Mr. VanDyke would be fair to persons who are gay, lesbian, or otherwise part of the LGBTQ community,” the letter read.

“Mr. VanDyke would not say affirmatively that he would be fair to any litigant before him, notably members of the LGBTQ community.”

Do you think Lawrence VanDyke was treated unfairly by the ABA?

This led to a strong denial by VanDyke, as well as tears, when Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley asked him about that aspect of the letter.

“Did you say that you wouldn’t be fair to members of the LGBT community?” Hawley said.

“Senator, that was the part of the letter,” VanDyke answered, getting choked up. “I did not say that.”

“No, I did not say that. I do not believe that,” he continued.

“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.”

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The “not qualified” rating by the ABA, under the Trump administration, has been reduced to a scarlet letter if and when the opportunity to apply it arises. So far, six of Trump’s nominees have received “not qualified” ratings. This comes, as CNN reported, “as the Trump administration and the Republican-led Senate has transformed the face of the judiciary by placing nearly 160 nominees on the federal bench including two Supreme Court nominees.” Pay no mind to that odd coincidence.

“The ABA is a liberal dark-money group, fronting for trial lawyers who donate millions of dollars to Democratic politicians,” Mike Davis, former chief counsel for then-Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and current head of the Article III Project — a group which supports Trump’s judicial nominees — told CNN.

Democrats, in case you had to ask, jumped on the letter. Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, for instance, called the letter “one of the most alarming he’d seen.” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, meanwhile, said he thought that the ABA should be brought in to testify, which might make for entertaining theater and not in the way I imagine Whitehouse intended it to.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee, meanwhile, blasted the ABA, saying the letter was “unfounded.”

“If this man is not qualified, I don’t know who is,” Lee said, noting that the ABA’s bias was proof it no longer deserves a “seat at the table.”

After viewing this clip and looking at the human aspect, I suspect many Americans would be willing to concur.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture