Donald Trump’s judicial nominee for a post on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was reduced to sobbing during a confirmation hearing on Wednesday when he was questioned about his past positions regarding LGBTQ people.
Lawrence VanDyke, who currently serves as a deputy assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice, turned red in the face as a letter from the American Bar Association was read which concluded he was “not qualified” for the bench, according to CNN.
Based on interviews with 60 judges and lawyers who had worked with VanDyke, the ABA’s letter concluded he could not treat LGBTQ litigants fairly.
“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.”
VanDyke rejected the notion that he wouldn’t treat LGBTQ people fairly.
“I do not believe that,” VanDyke told the Senate Judiciary Committee members. “It is a fundamental belief of mine that all people are created in the image of God,” adding, “they should all be treated with dignity and respect.”
"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 Hill (@thehill) October 30, 2019
The ABA also wrote that VanDyke was found to be “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules.”
Although VanDyke is a former solicitor general of both Nevada and Montana, the ABA felt he “lacks humility, has an ‘entitlement’ temperament, does not have an open mind, and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful.”
VanDyke told the Senate committee he was “disappointed, shocked and hurt” when he read the ABA letter on Tuesday evening, adding that he was “still processing” it.
He also made mention that the lead evaluator of the ABA’s committee had donated to one of his political opponents in the past. What he didn’t include was that the $150 donation occurred five years ago, and the evaluator recused themselves from the vote that found him to be unqualified for the bench.
It’s important to note that VanDyke does have a 15-year history with the virulently anti-LGBTQ legal organization, Alliance Defending Freedom. ADF has spent years attempting to link homosexuality with pedophilia, has advocated for sterilizing transgender people, and has represented individuals like anti-LGBTQ Colorado baker Jack Phillips and Washington state homophobic florist Baronelle Stutzman.
In 2004, he penned a strident essay opposing same-sex marriage and argued against same-sex couples raising children.
He wrote a ‘friend of the court’ brief in 2010 which argued college student groups were allowed via the First Amendment to bar LGBTQ students from membership.
As Solicitor General for Montana, he joined an amicus brief in Hollingsworth v. Perry which defended his state’s ban on marriage equality in 2013.
In another brief in U.S. v. Windsor, VanDyke defended the Defense of Marriage Act which blocked the federal government from recognizing any legally performed same-sex marriages.
He wrote, “Opposite-sex couples are the only procreative relationships that exist, which means that such couples are the only ones the government has a need to encourage.”