Published in the San Francisco Chronicle
Lawrence VanDyke, a Justice Department lawyer who has expressed sharply conservative views on such issues as gay rights and the environment, won Senate approval on a largely party-line vote Wednesday as President Trump’s 10th appointee to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
The 51-44 vote came a day after senators voted along party lines to approve another Ninth Circuit nominee, Patrick Bumatay, a federal prosecutor in Southern California and a former Justice Department lawyer. While also regarded as conservative, Bumatay will be the court’s first openly gay judge.
They succeed two of the Ninth Circuit’s most conservative judges, Carlos Bea and Jay Bybee, who are transferring to senior status with reduced workloads but will continue to hear cases. Trump has appointed younger jurists who have been screened by the conservative Federalist Society and could be on the court for decades — VanDyke turns 47 on Thursday, and Bumatay is 41.
Only one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, voted against VanDyke. Overall, he is the 50th Trump appeals court nominee to win confirmation.
“Senate Republicans are knowingly degrading the independence and trustworthiness of our judiciary, and they really don’t seem to care,” said Nan Aron, president of the liberal Alliance for Justice.