ABA Questions Trump Judicial Nominee’s Fairness Toward LGBTQ Community, Rates Him ‘Not Qualified’

By Melanie Arter | November 5, 2019 | 12:28pm EST
9th Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Lawrence VanDyke (Screenshot)
9th Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Lawrence VanDyke (Screenshot)

(CNSNews.com) – The American Bar Association gave a “not qualified” rating last week to one of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees questioning whether 9th Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Lawrence VanDyke would be fair to members of the LGBTQ community. 

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, VanDyke said he believes “all people are created in the image of God” and “should all be treated with dignity and respect.”

The ABA’s decision prompted former Nevada State Bar President Alan Lefebvre to cut up his ABA bar card after being a member for 38 years.

In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the ABA wrote: “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. 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 interviewed 60 people – “a representative cross section of lawyers (43), judges (16), and one other person who have worked with the nominee in the four states where he has worked and who are in a position to assess his professional qualifications.”

According to the ABA, “Some interviewees raised concerns about whether Mr. VanDyke would be fair to persons who are gay, lesbian, or otherwise part of the LGBTQ community. Mr. VanDyke would not say affirmatively that he would be fair to any litigant before him, notably members of the LGBTQ community.”

“Even though Mr. VanDyke is clearly smart, comments were made that in some oral arguments he missed issues fundamental to the analysis of the case. There were reports that his preparation and performance were lacking in some cases in which he did not have a particular personal or political interest,” the ABA wrote in the letter.

“While the evaluator was careful in her interview with Mr. VanDyke not to name interviewees, the nature of the issues that gave rise to some of the negative comments had been publicly discussed and other adverse comments could be raised without identifying interviewees. The negative issues discussed in this letter were thoroughly discussed with interviewees and vetted with the nominee. Significantly, the interviewees’ views, negative or positive, appeared strongly held on this nominee,” it added.

As a result of the ABA’s decision to rate VanDyke as “not qualified,” former Nevada State Bar President Alan Lefebvre quit the ABA, saying, “It is a sorry day for the nomination process that the ABA letter’s uninformed and anonymous venom would be spudded on paper.”

Lefebvre suggested the ABA’s rating was political, because VanDyke successfully challenged policies of former President Barack Obama.

“Lawrence’s reputation for excellence in all he strives to do shines through by a sampling of his written product. Consider his success challenging the Obama administration’s overtime and ‘waters of the United States’ rules, its DACA program, and its sage grouse land plan. And don’t forget he was the counsel of record on a multistate amicus brief opposing Missouri’s exclusion of churches from the Scrap Tire Program in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer before the Supreme Court,” he said in a statement.

“It would be impossible for a reviewer to challenge such a qualified nominee’s abilities unless he was yoked with an ideologue’s agenda,” Lefebvre said.

“Consider also how the ABA hides its untrue aspersions behind a wall of anonymity. In 2006, then Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, now a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he was ‘troubled by the ABA’s reliance on anonymous information.’ 13 years later, the ABA has apparently learned nothing. This reviewer certainly proved himself unqualified to review judicial nominees,” Lefebvre added.

“So my second reaction to the committee’s letter is to cut up my ABA bar card into 30 pieces. A 38 year member….no more,” he said.


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