The American Bar Association has proven once again that it is biased against conservative judicial nominees. The liberal-leaning bar association, founded in 1878, voluntarily assesses federal judicial nominees and presents its recommendations and explanations to the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee to use as its members see fit during hearings and votes on such nominees.
President Trump’s nomination of Lawrence VanDyke to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is the latest in a long line of travesties committed by the ABA. Its off-the-charts negative treatment of the Harvard-trained, experienced appellate litigator reeks of political bias and anti-Christian sentiment.
In its letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the bar association claimed that its 60 confidential interviews of those who know VanDyke professionally led them to conclude that the nominee is “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice of law,” and “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 letter went on to claim that the ABA had “concerns about whether Mr. VanDyke would be fair to persons who are gay, lesbian, or otherwise part of the LGBTQ community.”
The final nail in VanDyke’s ABA-constructed coffin is the ridiculous statement that “Mr. VanDyke would not say affirmatively that he would be fair to any litigant before him, notably members of the LGBTQ community.” The ABA gave VanDyke a rating of “Not Qualified.”
We’re asked to believe that a potential judge refused to say whether he’d be fair and impartial? Really? That’s like the Washington Nationals refusing to say their goal was to win the World Series. It makes no sense.
VanDyke choked up at his Senate Judiciary committee hearing when asked, based on the ABA letter, whether he might be a bigot. He categorically denied the ABA’s assertions under oath.
“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,” he told committee members.
His colleagues who have known him from law school, including his years at a premier national law firm, to his position as the Solicitor General for not one, but two states, Montana and Nevada, all describe him as a gentle giant, humble, respectful and cheerful. And brilliant. The magna cum laude Harvard Law School grad also clerked for Judge Janice Rogers Brown on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, served a stint as an Assistant Solicitor General of Texas, , and is currently serving as a Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Department of Justice.
It appears there is a Montana connection to the disparaging evaluation of VanDyke. A former political opponent in that state who defeated VanDyke in a race for a seat on that state’s supreme court seems to be one source of the negative comments. And in a bizarre twist to this story, the lead evaluator for the ABA is a Democrat who contributed to VanDyke’s opponent in that race.
So why did the ABA choose VanDyke for one of its sleaziest hit jobs ever? In addition to the political bias on display, the ABA and its liberal friends are afraid of what his impact on the 9th Circuit could be.
First, where the 9th Circuit is concerned, liberals consider it their “home turf” where they have historically always found a friendly judge or panel of judges when needed to either block policies and laws they can’t democratically defeat, or impose new laws by judicial fiat. But those days are numbered as the president has been appointing judicial conservatives to openings on that circuit at such a rate that conservatives will soon outnumber liberals. That’s a frightening prospect for liberals to face.
Second, VanDyke is a proponent of religious freedom. He’s done pro bono work for Alliance Defending Freedom, a free speech and religious liberty law firm that liberals sneeringly call a “hate group” because of its work done to defend traditional marriage and on behalf of Christian bakers and other wedding vendors under fire from state religious hostility. According to Wikipedia, VanDyke has submitted friend-of-the-court briefs in favor of Christian student clubs having biblical behavior codes for members, and wedding photographers being able to turn down a contract to photograph a lesbian “commitment ceremony.”
Those are the types of issues that put VanDyke in the ABA’s liberal crosshairs. LGBT issues have been front and center among the bar association’s political objectives for decades. But the fact that the attack is so extreme and contradicted by the facts in this case simply reinforces conservatives’ view that the ABA has long since abandoned any pretext of acting as a non-partisan contributor to the judicial nomination process.
We’ll update this post when the full Senate votes on his confirmation.