President Trump’s nominee for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals emotionally disputed allegations that he would treat the LGBTQ community unfairly.
Lawrence VanDyke broke down in tears during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday as he responded to Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. about a stinging letter sent to committee leadership on the eve of the hearing from the American Bar Association.
(Video: Fox News)
The letter claimed that VanDyke “would not say affirmatively that he would be fair to any litigant before him, notably members of the LGBTQ community” and that others interviewed about the nominee had also expressed the concern.
“I did not say that,” VanDyke told Hawley on Wednesday, clearly emotional. “No, 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. They should all be treated with dignity and respect, Senator.”
He explained that he had not been given the chance to respond to the allegations when he was interviewed by the American Bar Association, noting that he was told there was not enough time when he tried to address the claims.
“I find that absolutely unbelievable,” Hawley said, adding that it “probably explains the totally ad hominem nature of this disgraceful letter.”
The ABA letter included complaints against VanDyke, a Harvard Law School graduate and former solicitor general for Montana and Nevada, noting “the assessments of interviewees,” without giving details about who they were.
“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 said, noting the reasons behind the “Not Qualified” rating. “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 was immediately slammed for its bias in the treatment of VanDyke.
“Lawrence’s reputation for excellence in all he strives to do shines through by a sampling of his written product,” former Nevada State Bar president Alan Lefebvre said in a statement before the hearing, according to Fox News. “It would be impossible for a reviewer to challenge such a qualified nominee’s abilities unless he was yoked with an ideologue’s agenda.”
“Even for the ABA, this is beyond the pale,” Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network, said in a statement, calling out the ABA’s “bias against conservative nominees to the judiciary.”
“The ABA has essentially called you a homophobic bigot,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah told VanDyke in the hearing.”Do you have any personal animus against LGBT persons?”
“No, senator,” VanDyke responded, asserting that he would not be swayed by someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Lee also addressed the ABA and its questionable methods of evaluation.
“The time has come, Mr. Chairman,” he said, “to suspend the unique access that the American Bar Association has, until such time as a thorough investigation and review is undertaken to inquire into how these functions are performed.”
Hawley suggested that the ABA “should be treated like any other special interest group” and asked the White House counsel’s office “not to make nominees available any longer to the ABA for these interviews.”
“Do you think you can be fair to anybody who comes before you?” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. had asked VanDyke.
Absolutely, Chairman,” the nominee replied.
“Do you know Patrick over here?” Graham said, referring to Patrick Bumatay, another Ninth Circuit nominee, who is gay. “Could you be fair to him?”
“I would sure hope so. Yes, I would,” VanDyke said.