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Trump's Ninth Circuit Nominees Move Ahead as VanDkye Survives ABA 'Hit Job'

11-22-2019
Lawrence VanDyke. (Image credit: CBN News)
Lawrence VanDyke. (Image credit: CBN News)

Lawrence VanDyke and Patrick Bumatay, President Trump's nominees for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, moved a step closer to confirmation on Thursday.

The Senate Judiciary Committee gave its seal of approval after voting along party lines.

Law.com reports all 12 Republican Judiciary Committee members voted to forward the nominations of Southern California prosecutor Patrick Bumatay and former Nevada and Montana Solicitor General Lawrence VanDyke to the full Senate. Committee Democrats, citing Bumatay's lack of appellate experience and questions about VanDyke's qualifications and ties to Nevada, voted against both nominations.

Carrie Severino, chief counsel, and policy director to the Judicial Crisis Network tweeted about the two nominees, writing: "Congratulations to Lawrence VanDyke and Patrick Bumatay for being voted out of committee. VanDyke has spent his career fighting against federal overreach in the West; Bumatay has a distinguished record as a federal prosecutor. Both men will make exceptional judges."

As CBN News reported, the American Bar Association (ABA)  Federal Judiciary Committee harshly criticized VanDyke. But critics accused the ABA of a "hit job" after it sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee saying the people it interviewed called VanDyke, "arrogant, lazy and an ideologue."

The letter also alleged that VanDyke himself would not say that he would be fair to members of the LGBTQ community. 

VanDyke broke down, crying before the committee during a hearing last month saying that wasn't true. 

"Did you say that you would not be fair to members of the LGBTQ community?" Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) asked VanDyke.

"Senator that was the part of the letter..." VanDyke answered as he trailed off and began to cry. "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 and they should all be treated with dignity and respect," he added.

VanDyke's defenders say the ABA is biased against conservatives in general and that the lead evaluator has a clear, personal political history of opposing the nominee.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) also spoke out against the ABA, saying its review was biased and called for the association to be considered a special interest group. 

The letter "would almost be humorous in an inflammatory way were it not so personal, were it not so unfounded," Lee said. "The ABA has essentially called you a homophobic bigot... with no apparent basis."

Prior to his nomination to the circuit court, VanDyke served as the former Solicitor General for the states of Nevada and Montana. He has argued more than 20 appeals cases in federal circuit courts.

In an op-ed appearing in The Wall Street Journal last month, Adam J. White, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and an assistant professor of law at George Mason University, wrote " 'Arrogant, lazy, an ideologue.' Those words don't describe Lawrence VanDyke. They describe today's American Bar Association."

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