News (USA)

Trump nominee starts bawling when questioned about anti-LGBTQ record

Lawrence VanDyke
Lawrence VanDyke Photo: Screenshot/YouTube

A federal judicial nominee started crying when grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee about his anti-LGBTQ actions.

Lawrence VanDyke is a former solicitor general of both Nevada and Montana and Donald Trump nominated him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Ciruit, one of the most powerful positions in the American judiciary.

Related: Trump’s most extreme anti-LGBTQ judicial nominee may be confirmed this week

The American Bar Association (ABA) sent a letter to the Judiciary Committee calling VanDyke unqualified for the position because he’s “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules.”

The ABA also said that there were “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,” the letter stated.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) asked him about the accusation at confirmation hearings Wednesday, and he started crying, the Washington Blade reports.

“No, I did not say that, I do not believe that,” VanDyke said.

“It is a fundamental belief that all people are created in the image of God. 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 do that, including members of the LGBT community and any other community that has been historically disadvantaged in this country,” he added.

In 2004, he wrote a column saying that marriage equality “will hurt families, and consequentially children and society” if legalized. Sen. Catherine Cortez (D-NV) asked him about that, and he said that his views have changed.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) brought up his answer on that issue later and said that VanDyke was “kind of flippant.”

In 2013, as attorney general of Montana, he signed briefs arguing against marriage equality.

VanDyke had an email published in the Great Falls Tribune in 2013 defending a photography company that was suing for a religious exemption to be allowed to discriminate against LGBTQ people. He wrote that “gay rights cannot always trump religious liberty.”

Sen. Rick Durban (D-IL) asked him about the photography case, and VanDyke responded by bringing up Christian Legal Society v. University of California – Hastings, a case where a club at a public university excluded LGBTQ people but still wanted funding and official recognition from the school. He participated on behalf of a group that opposes LGBTQ equality.

VanDyke said it was one of his favorite cases: “I’m so happy to have the role that I had in that case because the position we were in — it was illustrating that there doesn’t have to be a conflict.”

Except that case showed that there was a conflict, and the Christian Legal Society lost at the Supreme Court.

He also faced questioning for his opposition to abortion access, gun control, and environmental regulations.

VanDyke has done pro-bono work for the Alliance Defending Freedom, an SPLC designated hate group. He was not asked about that at the hearing.

VanDyke is not the only Republican judicial nominee to cry in front of the Senate during his confirmation process. Last year, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh choked up when responding to sexual assault accusations made against him.

Kavanaugh, though, did not give as good of a performance as VanDyke, only kind of getting choked up at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, which is rather restrained compared to VanDyke’s real tears. If this is a strategy for Trump’s judicial nominees going forward, VanDyke is setting the standard.

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