Lawrence VanDyke, who President Donald
Trump nominated for the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, became
visibly emotional when asked by senators about his anti-LGBT record.
VanDyke is one of two Trump choices for
open seats on the appeals court. The other nominee, Patrick J.
Bumatay, is openly gay. The Senate Judiciary Committee interviewed
both candidates on Wednesday.
VanDyke's appearance before the
committee came after the American Bar Association (ABA) concluded he
was “not qualified” for the position based on his temperament and
bias toward people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, a
Republican, questioned VanDyke about the ABA's conclusion that he
harbors animus toward LGBT people.
“No, I did not say that,” an
emotional VanDyke answered as tears welled up in his eyes. “I do
not believe that.”
“It is a fundamental belief that all
people are created in the image of God,” he said. “They should
all be treated with dignity and respect, senator.”
“I would not have allowed myself to
have been nominated for this position if I did not think I could
[treat every person who came before me with respect and dignity],
including members of the LGBT community and any other community that
has been historically disadvantaged in this country,” VanDyke said.
In its letter, the ABA said that it
determined VanDyke's qualifications for the bench on 60 interviews
with lawyers, judges, and persons who worked with him.
“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
ABA said in its letter. “Mr. VanDyke would not say
affirmatively that he would be fair to any litigant before him,
notably members of the LGBTQ community.”
Other interviewees described VanDyke as
“arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lack in knowledge of the
day-to-day practice including procedural rules,” the letter states.
“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.”
VanDyke has a long record opposing LGBT
rights, including an outspoken opposition to same-sex marriage and
ties to legal firm Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the
Blade reported. The ADF represents clients opposed to LGBT
rights such as bakers or florists who are opposed to serving same-sex
While in college, VanDyke wrote in an
op-ed that allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry would “hurt
families, and consequentially children and society.”
VanDyke told Vermont Senator Patrick
Leahy, a Democrat, that his views on the subject have “definitely
changed since 2004.”