Lawrence VanDyke, President Trump’s judicial nominee for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, broke down on Wednesday when asked if he’d treat gay people fairly during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
VanDyke’s confirmation has been vehemently opposed by the American Bar Association, which referred to the nominee as “not qualified,” citing laziness, arrogance and a lack of basic “day-to-day” legal knowledge in a scathing letter to committee leaders.
In the letter, the ABA said some interviewees “raised concern” over whether VanDyke would be fair to members of the LGBTQ community.
Missouri Senator Josh Hawley invoked the letter during Wednesday’s hearing, inquiring about VanDyke’s experiences with courts of appeal, the video shows. VanDyke responded that he’d argued 24 cases in appellate courts and briefed “hundreds.”
Hawley’s next question sent VanDyke over the edge:
“The letter also says that you said would not commit to being fair to litigants before you, notably members of the LGBTQ community, can you speak to that?”
VanDyke struggled to speak and ultimately broke into tears before responding.
“No, I did not say that. I don’t believe that,” he said. “It is a fundamental belief of mine that all people are created in the image of God. They should all be treated with dignity and respect, Senator.”
When asked, VanDyke said that should he be confirmed, he would be committed to treating every litigant with dignity and respect.
“I would not have allowed myself to be nominated for this position if I did not think I could do that,” he said.
VanDyke is currently the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Department of Justice, according to the White House. Previously, he was the Nevada Solicitor General and the Solicitor General of Montana.