Another Stomach-Turning Appointment

While we are all transfixed by the Impeachment process, and by Republicans’ bizarre antics during the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committee proceedings, their Senate counterparts have been busy defiling the federal bench and giving a middle finger to the rule of law by confirming judicial nominees who are demonstrably unfit.

Ed Brayton recently reported on the confirmation of one such specimen: a creationist named Lawrence Van Dyke. Van Dyke is yet another Trump nominee rated “unfit” by the American Bar Association–ratings to which the Administration has responded by discontinuing the practice of asking the ABA for its evaluation of potential nominees.

When you don’t get the answers you want, just stop asking the questions…

In addition to being considered unfit by his legal peers, however, Van Dyke is apparently a real piece of work:

After conducting 60 interviews, the ABA found that VanDyke has a reputation as “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules.” Video of VanDyke lecturing, scolding, and interrupting judges during oral argument while serving as Nevada solicitor general lends credence to that assessment…

VanDyke has a long record as an anti-LGBTQ activist. He wrote in 2004 that marriage equality “will hurt families, and consequentially children and society.” As the solicitor general of Montana, he advocated for the state to join two briefs alleging that legal recognition of same-sex relationships would harm children. The first claimed that prohibiting same-sex marriage promoted “optimal childrearing” because same-sex couples “cannot provide” the optimal “family structure.” And the second asserted that states “may rationally conclude” that “it is better” for parents to have a “biological” connection to their children…

How would you like to be an LGBTQ litigant whose claim was being adjudicated by this gem? As Brayton writes,

Only Trump would have even considered appointing this ignorant dolt to the federal bench. And since the Senate Republicans would confirm a ham sandwich if Trump nominated one, we’re now stuck with this mushhead for a lifetime.

A regular reader of this blog recently sent me an email asking whether Bill Barr could be impeached. As I told her, he could be–and he should be. But so long as Mitch McConnell is in charge of the Senate, he won’t be.

The New York Bar Association recently issued a statement to the effect that, if Barr refuses to recuse himself from the Ukraine investigation, he should resign or, failing that, “be subject to sanctions, including possible removal, by Congress.” It is certainly foreseeable that other bar associations, responding to inappropriate behavior by one of Trump’s questionable judicial appointments, might also call on Congress to issue sanctions– although doing so would raise a very real possibility of judicial retaliation against lawyers with suits pending in that courtroom.

More to the point, calling out judicial misbehavior is useless if the Senate remains in the hands of the same no-integrity Republicans who confirmed these specimens in the first place.

As important as it is to defeat Donald Trump in November, it is every bit as important–actually, it is even more important–to remove Mitch McConnell (aka the most evil man in America) and the Republican majority that has enabled him.


  1. The Constitution provided the Legislature with the power and responsibility to protect this country from a president incapable of carrying out the duties of or honoring the Oath of Office of the presidency and the Executive branch of this government but NO control over the Legislature to enforce carrying out their responsibility and honoring their Oath of Office. This oversight has been the ruling factor since January 2010 and there is no end in sight.

    “As important as it is to defeat Donald Trump in November, it is every bit as important–actually, it is even more important–to remove Mitch McConnell (aka the most evil man in America) and the Republican majority that has enabled him.”

    On the off chance that McConnell might be removed from the Senate with the 2020 election and if Democrats do not take the majority; we need to be looking at a possible Republican replacement for McConnell. Is he the only evil-doer in the Senate majority; how dangerous is Graham?

  2. It seems the only cure for stacking the courts with these creatures is for the next president to increase the number of justices on the high (supreme and appellate) courts. Not being a lawyer, is that even a realistic possibility, or are we (and our children) doomed to live with these incompetent judicial appointments?

  3. “Only Trump would have even considered appointing this ignorant dolt to the federal bench. And since the Senate Republicans would confirm a ham sandwich if Trump nominated one, we’re now stuck with this mushhead for a lifetime.”

    It appears qualifications and experience are not required for these many current Trump/McConnell judicial appointments; is it a possibility, even a remote possibility, that Rudy Giuliani could be a recipient of a lifetime appointment to our already weakened federal judicial system? Trump cannot seem to let go of Rudy; he can only silence him briefly before he returns front-and-center to support Trump’s actions, however unConstitutional, illegal or screwy they are.

  4. If the Democrats take the Senate, would it be possible to impeach some of these more egregiously unfit judges?

  5. Alphons, FDR tried that. Didn’t work. Today we’d have to have 75 Democratic Senators and 400 Democratic Representatives, or some such dramatic majority.

  6. So, for the foreseeable future these Trump judicial appointees will be pumping out nonsensical and unconstitutional rulings that will all have to be appealed. The costs to both the government and to individuals will be staggering. Meanwhile, the citizens of the United States will live in a lawless kind of limbo where more distrust of our legal system festers.
    Somehow, impeachment is not enough.

  7. The Presidency was taken via illegal means. The way to seek to nullify the election would be through the Courts. I don’t see that happening in the near future, although we tried twice in 2017.

  8. Minor clarification. Bill Barr could be impeached (House); McConnell and his colleagues (Senate) could prevent his conviction and removal from office.

  9. This admin’s willful destruction of the EPA’s environmental protections and McConnell’s lifetime appointments of evil judges is handing down a terrible mess to our country’s young citizens.

    When today’s young children grow up and recognize the mess these evil greedy people dumped on them I hope those former children will find some way to severely punish the evil bastards.

    Yes, I hope McConnell and Impotus and the greedy oligarchs live long enough to suffer the punishment that they deserve.

  10. One question that seems to be predominate by those of us who are not followers of President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence is why the Evangelical’s and Conservative Catholics support these two no matter what actions or numerous lies are told by them. Without a doubt in my mind, abortion and maintaining control over women is the issue for these Bible Thumper’s. Same sex marriage is another hot button.

    There now appears to be a crack in the Bible Thumping network of blind obedience to President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence. I first read this on Facebook and figured it was some BS since the the son of Billy Graham is pro-President Agent Orange all the way.

    Christianity Today, the evangelical Christian magazine founded by televangelist Billy Graham, called for Donald Trump’s removal from office following the president’s impeachment, marking a significant split from what has typically been Trump’s staunch base.

    “We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath,” Galli continued.

    “He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals,” Galli wrote. “He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone – with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders – is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.”

    “To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: remember who you are and whom you serve,” Galli wrote. “Consider how your justification of Mr Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come?”

  11. I knew we were in big trouble in re judicial appointments when the recommendations of the Federalist Society were taken over those of the ABA. As to additional Supreme Court justices and the recitation that FDR tried his luck to, as the Republicans screamed, “pack the court,” there is nothing in the Constitution which prohibits more or fewer justices on the court and I for one think there is better reason to “pack the court” now than in FDR’s day what with error-prone federal trial and appellate judges who are going to add to an unending stream of appeals to an already overworked Supreme Court. More judges would help reduce workload irrespective of political claims of partisanship.

    I was a member of the Supreme Court bar until Bush v. Gore, upon which I resigned from that bar with a letter to the Clerk to the effect that I did not wish to be a member of the bar of a court that itself acted unconstitutionally (speaking of partisanship). I think that appeal was wrongly decided and rivals the Dred Scott decision in terms of its effect.

    Yes, Mitch is wrong in the way he is running these unqualified people through the mill to spend their next forty years on the bench, but let’s not forget that it is not he but an oblivious Trump who nominates such unqualified people to trial and appellate court positions. There’s enough blame to go around.

  12. The McConnell/Trump Federal bench stacking is yet another characteristic of the morally bankrupt, totally corrupt Republican party. After all, the nominees have to get Senate confirmation….and guess who runs the Senate.

    This is what Republicans do: Lie, cheat, steal, obfuscate and defy the Constitution. Why? Because they only serve the richest among us and to them the Constitution is a nuisance. Forget all the religious and moral piety coming from the right. They are outright criminals and traitors.

  13. Been buried up to here with legal stuff and it appears there is a path to a “twofer” on the future of our democracy…pay attention, now…

    Pelosi needs to continue her “hold” on the impeachment trial. She must immediately petition SCOTUS to expedite a decision on the Don McGahn case (his refusal to obey a House subpoena). As the case now stands, he must obey. The precedent is from 1974 when the White House refused a subpoena on Nixon’s documents and SCOTUS ruled in favor of the House.

    If SCOTUS refuses – we know the rule of law is toast.

    If SCOTUS agrees and rules for McGahn – see immediately above.

    BUT, if SCOTUS agrees and rules against McGahn, the House can proceed with hearings on a potential 3rd article, obstruction of justice, and demand documents on Ukraine already subpoenaed and issue additional subpoenas for testimony from Mulvaney, Pompeo, etc.

    Otherwise, those documents will be “lost”.

    And even if the witnesses “can’t remember” or take the Fifth, the public numbers should change.

  14. Words fail.

    There is a battle going on for the heart and mind of the country between knowledge and ignorance and those on the side of ignorance don’t even have the means to know that they are infected and contagious and are by nature the easiest for others to organize and direct in our social/entertainment media besotted culture built on advertising/fake news/propaganda/brainwashing.

    What we consider an epidemic, oligarchs consider a whirlwind of opportunity to gather up the little of the wealth that so far is still in the hands of the creators of all wealth, those who go to work every morning.

    In the debate last night candidates agreed that the biggest threat to civilization that the ignorant can’t get their heads around is climate change because we simply have done nothing for so long that we’ve thrown away most of the opportunity to render it harmless.

    What about the cause of that lost opportunity to win? Ignorance is at the base of all problems.

  15. will CJ Roberts relize that in history he will be viewd as the CJ who let the federal judiciary be polluted? od maybe he just doesn’t give a damn for his ‘legacy? will he voir dire the ‘jury’ in the trump impeachment ‘tria;l?’

  16. What is really scary is that most of these incompetents are also young. I urge everyone to vote blue all the way down the ticket.

  17. Well, if they were unlawfully appointed by shenanigans so to speak, then there is a certain illegality there. It seems to me then, they could be removed by US Marshalls abiding by an executive order. If no one’s going to put on their big boy pants, you’re going to get stepped on by all of those pointy toed cowboy boots. Or, don’t play softball when the other guys are playing hardball.

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