It’s no longer enough for Democrats to simply oppose judicial nominees with which they have philosophical disagreements. Instead, they default to the vicious politics of personal destruction that defines so much of today’s progressive discourse. See: Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The latest unfortunate nominee to face a congressional auto-da-fe is Lawrence VanDyke, a former Nevada solicitor general nominated by President Donald Trump to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. On Wednesday, Mr. VanDyke — a former editor of the Harvard Law Review with extensive litigation experience in the federal courts — appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Democrats met him waving pitchforks and torches.
Mr. VanDyke, his wife and three children seated behind him, broke down when he was essentially accused of being a “homophobic bigot” — as one of his defender’s, GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, described it. The leftist lobby known as the American Bar Association provided cover for the onslaught with a dubious evaluation that labeled Mr. VanDyke “unqualified” based on anonymous smears and personal attacks that described him as “arrogant” and “lazy.” The “unqualified” label might be news to the folks at Harvard Law, who granted Mr. VanDyke his diploma.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California hammered Mr. VanDyke for being out of the mainstream because he opposed Nevada’s 2016 background check initiative and favored a ban on same-sex marriage. Sen. Feinstein has an interesting perspective on “the mainstream,” given that nearly half of Nevada voters opposed the background check question, while nearly 70 percent of state voters favored a gay marriage ban when it graced the ballot in the early 2000s.
Times have no doubt changed over the past two decades, and Mr. VanDyke insisted he would apply the law as it regards gay marriage and other LGBTQ issues. He later had to fend off a Democratic offensive over his membership in the Federalist Society. It tells you all you need to know about modern Democrats that they consider it a black mark for a nominee to embrace the constitutional principles upon which this country was founded.
Mr. VanDyke’s real crime, in the mind of Senate Democrats, is his religious faith and the fact that the president nominated him without honoring tradition by consulting Nevada’s two Democratic senators. Democrats might want to discuss the latter with former majority leader Harry Reid, who knows a thing or two about upending Senate traditions regarding judicial nominees.
Senate Democrats, of course, are free to oppose Mr. VanDyke’s elevation to the federal bench for whatever reasons they see fit. But it would be nice if they did so without wallowing in the gutter — and without pretending that their opposition has anything whatsoever to do with his impeccable resume.