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VICTOR JOECKS: VanDyke a great pick for Nevada’s open Ninth Circuit seat

Updated October 29, 2019 - 9:00 pm

President Donald Trump continued his string of great judicial picks by nominating Lawrence VanDyke to Nevada’s open seat on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Little wonder then that liberals, including Nevada’s two Democrat senators, adamantly oppose him.

VanDyke is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. If senators focus solely on his education and experience, he’ll win unanimous approval. VanDyke graduated from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor for Harvard Law Review. He then clerked in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

He has served as solicitor general in Nevada and Montana, both states under the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit. The solicitor general is the state’s top lawyer. For context, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan was U.S. solicitor general when then-president Barack Obama nominated her for the Supreme Court. VanDyke has argued more than a dozen times before the 9th Circuit and has been counsel of record on three dozen Supreme Court briefs.

VanDyke is well-qualified for the seat in every category but the one that matters to liberals. He doesn’t appear interested in advancing the left’s policy agenda through judicial fiat. That’s the 9th Circuit’s modus operandi. Consider the late-9th Circuit judge Stephen Reinhardt, whom the New York Times eulogized as the “liberal lion of federal court.” Reinhardt was one of the most overturned judges in the country by the U.S. Supreme Court, but that only emboldened him. “They can’t catch ’em all,” he said about his outlandish decisions.

In contrast, VanDyke has spent his career working to enforce the constitutional boundaries on federal power. He fought against the Obama administration’s unilateral expansion of overtime rules. A Texas judge invalidated the rule before Trump scaled it back. In an amicus brief, he argued against Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which would have vastly expanded the power of the EPA through administrative fiat. The U.S. Supreme Court stayed the plan before Trump reversed course.

Perhaps what most horrifies the left is that VanDyke doesn’t just believe in gun rights, he exercises them. A Las Vegas Sun editorial attacked him for demonstrating his personal views on the Second Amendment by emailing “an image of himself hunting with (a) semiautomatic rifle.”

Pass the smelling salts. Will the Sun next attack a judicial nominee for demonstrating his personal view of the First Amendment by writing an opinion essay? Or worse, praying?

All liberals have left are political tricks. It wouldn’t be surprising if the far-left American Bar Association gives him an “unqualified” rating despite his experience. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen will complain that Trump didn’t wait for a recommendation from the commission they stacked with Democrats. But they didn’t object when Trump bypassed their committee two weeks ago and selected someone they approved of for a federal court seat.

Opposition this fierce suggests Trump should add VanDyke to his list of potential Supreme Court nominees. VanDyke will make an excellent addition to the 9th Circuit.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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