Impeachment or no impeachment, the one thing that is not slowing down is Mitch McConnell’s confirmation express. Currently, President Trump has appointed 152 federal judges in only three years. While Gorsuch and Kavanaugh have gotten the most attention (and I predict the election year will see at least one more Supreme Court confirmation fight), the real place where Trump and McConnell are kicking butt is at the appeals court level. Most cases never make it to the Supreme Court and, therefore, the appeals courts have a huge role in shaping the law. Trump has appointed 43 of the 179 federal appeals court judges.
Right now a battle royale is taking place as President Trump tries to bring the Ninth Circuit back to the realization that it is actually an American court and American law, not whatever deviance du jour that is raging in San Francisco, is the law of the land.
Right now there are two judges being reviewed. Patrick Bumatay is being opposed by both California Senators. Lawrence Van Dyke is opposed by both of Nevada’s Democrat senators.
Today, both Bumatay and Van Dyke had their hearing and it was little short of shameful.
From the Eisenhower Administration until 2001, when President Bush ended the practice, the American Bar Association evaluated nominees to the federal judiciary. The idea was sound. The governing body of the legal profession would conduct “peer review” of nominees to try to ensure only the highest quality men and women made it to the federal bench. But the ABA, like every other organization, was subject to Antonio Gramsci’s “Long March Through the Institutions.” Now the ABA is reliably and reflexively left wing and they are in a panic over the dozens of bright, young, and conservative judges being appointed to lifetime positions. Obama, naturally, reinstated the process and, for reasons that are unclear to me, the Trump administration has continued with it.
Today, however, the usual sniping at Trump nominees took a vicious turn.
“Mr. VanDyke’s accomplishments are offset by the assessments of interviewees that Mr. VanDyke is arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules,” wrote William C. Hubbard, the Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough partner who chairs the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary. “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.”
The ABA committee that vets judicial nominees gave a rare "not qualified" to 9th Circuit nominee Lawrence VanDyke, currently a DOJ official. Interviewees described him as "arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-today practice" https://t.co/VXPFa3Vqss pic.twitter.com/W3ctkjQ1rh
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) October 30, 2019
Given, being arrogant is something of a prerequisite for the federal bench, but the rest is utter bullsh**. Van Dyke is not lazy and not a light weight:
VanDyke, who served as Nevada’s solicitor general from 2015 until earlier this year, currently serves as a deputy assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. A former associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, VanDyke clerked for Judge Janice Rogers Brown at the D.C. Circuit earlier in his career.
The head of the evaluation team was Marcia Davenport who backed a political opponent of Van Dyke. According to Van Dyke, not only was he not given a chance to answer their concerns, the final letter actually lies about what he said. It isn’t very often you see a lawyer moved to tears but this is a man seeing his entire life’s work being slandered and dismissed for partisan gain:
This is Mike Lee blasting the ABA and calling for it to be treated just like any other special interest group.
Missouri’s Josh Hawley was on it, too:
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) October 30, 2019
I think the ABA has overplayed its hand here. Lindsey Graham indicated that Van Dyke’s nomination would not be opposed by the GOP, but that isn’t enough. He should stop treating ABA input with any deference. There is no place in our government, particularly considering the unconstitutional breadth of powers the courts have arrogated to themselves, for any priesthood or trade organization to have an inside track to skewing the nomination process.