Trump judicial nominee breaks into tears in hearing over scathing finding that he's 'arrogant, lazy' and 'an ideologue'

Trump judicial nominee breaks into tears in hearing over scathing finding that he's 'arrogant, lazy' and 'an ideologue'

Lawrence J.C. VanDyke openly wept on Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee as he was confronted with a blistering review from the American Bar Association, which found that he was not qualified to serve on the federal courts after having been nominated by President Donald Trump.


The ABA, which can't officially block nominees but whose recommendations are seen as carrying substantial weight, wrote of VanDyke:

Mr. VanDyke’s accomplishments are offset by the assessments of interviewees thatMr. 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.

It also said some people interviewed in the assessment of VanDyke worried that he would not be "fair to

persons who are gay, lesbian, or otherwise part of the LGBTQ community."

When confronted with these findings, which had been made public the previous night, VanDyke became distressed in the middle of the hearing and began crying. His face turned red.

"I do not believe that," VanDyke said, referring to criticism of his views of LGBT people, according to CNN. "It is a fundamental belief of mine that all people are created in the image of God." He added that he thinks "they should all be treated with dignity and respect."

VanDyke isn't the first of Trump's nominees to get strong pushback from the ABA. Law.com reported that nine of Trump's nominees have been rated as "not qualified" for the federal bench by the organization. At least four of these nominees have been successfully confirmed nevertheless, while others have been blocked. The ABA's rating process has been criticized by conservatives, who say the organization is biased against nominees who aren't liberals.

Writing for the conservative National Review, Thomas Jipping wrote that of the ABA: "[It's] reasonable to ask whether this consistently liberal organization can really be objective and non-political in its ratings of judicial nominees." He called the devastating letter about VanDyke "another self-inflicted wound" for the organization. Conservatives were particularly critical of the VanDyke letter because the investigation into him was reportedly led by Marcia Davenport, who donated $150 in 2014 to a political opponent of VanDyke.

Orin Kerr, a University of California law professor, noted on Twitter: “I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this before, which I say realizing that some will say it shows how unqualified the [nominee] is, while others will say it shows how biased the ABA is. I don’t know which is true. But either way, it’s a remarkable letter.”

In the hearing, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) noted Wednesday that there have been many criticisms of the ABA review process, some of which he agrees with. In particular, he acknowledged that the ABA's conclusions are opaque, and it doesn't provide the background documentation of its investigations.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chair of the committee, said he agreed with these criticisms.

"We actually have something we can do about that," Whitehouse said. "I've been on this committee awhile. ABA letters are always this way. They don't give you the underlying backup. But what we do have here is some pretty darned serious concerns. And to just laugh them off, I don't think is appropriate. I think we have a responsibility here. ... We can resolve this by bringing in the ABA folks and letting them explain what the basis was for these charges."

Watch Whitehouse's remarks below:

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Close

Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.