Download AFJ Background Report

On October 15, 2019, President Trump nominated Lawrence VanDyke to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, for the seat held by Jay S. Bybee, who will be taking senior status. VanDyke has tenuous ties to Nevada and does not have the support of the state’s senators. If VanDyke is confirmed, along with other pending nominees, he will be the tenth Trump judge on the Ninth Circuit. There will be 16 judges appointed by Democratic presidents and 13 judges appointed by Republican presidents.

When Lawrence VanDyke ran for Montana Supreme Court, six retired Montana Supreme Court Judges wrote in opposition to his candidacy, “Montanans deserve fair, impartial, independent and non-partisan judges and justices elected by Montana voters—not political hacks, bought and paid for by out of state dark money.”

What they wrote in 2014 is even more applicable here.

President Trump – who has repeatedly attacked the Ninth Circuit (a “big thorn,” a “dangerous disgrace,” a “complete & total disaster,” and “out of control”) – knows VanDyke will be a reliable vote to erode critical legal protections. At no time in his career has VanDyke demonstrated he is anything more than a fierce partisan, more interested in advancing ultraconservative policies than the law. He will not be a fair-minded, unbiased judge neutrally applying facts to law. In fact, he has repeatedly shown he is committed to undermining clean air and clean water, eroding women’s access to reproductive health, attacking LGBTQ equality, and weakening civil rights and access to public education

VanDyke’s record of aggressive advocacy for partisan and right-wing causes suggests he will be unable to act as an independent, fair-minded jurist. Alliance for Justice strongly opposes VanDyke’s confirmation.