It’s hard to keep up with all of President Donald Trump’s questionable nominees for lifetime federal judgeships.
There was Brett Talley, a 36-year-old lawyer and former paranormal activity investigator who tweeted about Hillary Clinton being “rotten” and said his solution to the Sandy Hook shooting massacre “would be to stop being a society of pansies and man up.” Matthew Petersen, also a 36-year-old lawyer, couldn’t answer basic questions about law in his confirmation hearing and was basically shamed into withdrawing. Jeff Mateer, a 52-year-old lawyer who described transgender children as evidence of “Satan’s plan” and endorsed gay conversion therapy, was eventually withdrawn too.
None of those nominees made it through the Senate confirmation process. But a growing number of Trump’s court picks are slipping through despite earning a rare and embarrassing “not qualified” rating by the nonpartisan American Bar Association. And Republicans are ready to confirm even more of them.
This week alone, two of Trump’s court picks who earned the abysmal ABA rating ― Sarah Pitlyk and Lawrence VanDyke ― inched forward. Pitlyk, a 42-year-old lawyer who previously clerked for then-D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh, advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday on a party-line vote. VanDyke, a 46-year-old lawyer who is the former solicitor general of both Nevada and Montana, got his confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
“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,” reads the brutal ABA review of VanDyke. “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, which has reviewed each of a president’s judicial nominees for decades, interviewed 60 people in its assessment of VanDyke ― including 43 lawyers and 16 judges. It found that VanDyke’s colleagues “would not say affirmatively that he would be fair to any litigant before him, notably members of the LGBTQ community.”