President Trump’s nominee to fill a seat on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals referenced his Christian beliefs Wednesday in defending charges he would be biased against LGBTQ individuals.
Lawrence VanDyke, who has represented both the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) – two groups often in opposition – was reacting to an American Bar Association report that said he “would not say affirmatively that he would be fair to any litigant before him, notably members of the LGBTQ community.”
VanDyke was appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is scheduled to vote on his nomination, the Hill reports.
“I did not say that,” he said through tears. “I do not believe that. It is a fundamental belief of mine that all people are created in the image of God, and they should all be treated with dignity and respect.”
VanDyke’s nomination has the potential to further transform the Ninth Circuit, which traditionally has been one of the more liberal appeals courts in the nation. Liberal groups oppose his nomination.
Democratic Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.) asked VanDyke about a 2004 op-ed in which the nominee wrote that same-sex marriage would “hurt families, and consequentially children and society.” VanDyke said his personal views would remain separate from his decision, The Washington Post reported. VanDyke also told Leahy, “My personal views have definitely changed since 2004.”
The American Bar Association report says VanDyke is “not qualified.”
Hiram Sasser, general counsel for First Liberty Institute, defended VanDyke.
“The American Bar Association’s subversive attack on Lawrence VanDyke should shock all Americans,” Sasser said in a statement. “This eleventh-hour attack and attempted character assassination of a brilliant lawyer was spearheaded by VanDyke’s former political opponent, and it should be rejected without further consideration.
“VanDyke defended America’s most cherished freedoms – including the dignity of the individual and the freedoms of speech, religion, and more – as a public servant and in private practice. Anyone who validates the ABA’s political smears is woefully ignorant of VanDyke’s qualifications and professionalism,” Sasser added.
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.