With the U.S. Senate confirming Deputy Assistant Attorney General Lawrence VanDyke to sit on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, President Trump issued a blow to the liberal grip on a key federal court that hears Alaska cases. The 9th Circuit has long been known to block pro-life and religious liberty appeals in the nine states it serves: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
Major conservative and pro-life groups celebrated his confirmation as he has been vocal supporter of upholding the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.
VanDyke was confirmed on Dec. 11 with a 51-44 vote. Both Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan supported him. With 30 active seats on the 9th Circuit, 10 are now Trump appointees, and 14 appointed by Republican presidents. In 2018 just six active judges on the 9th Circuit were Republican appointees.
A Harvard Law School graduate, VanDyke served as deputy assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice and as solicitor general in Montana and Nevada. Major conservative and pro-life groups celebrated his confirmation as he has been vocal supporter of upholding the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. He has also opposed LGBT laws that threaten religious liberty and free speech. In 2013, as Montana’s solicitor general, he defended the state’s definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, and he has worked as a legal intern for Alliance Defending Freedom – a group that defends religious liberty cases across the country including several in Alaska.
With VanDyke’s confirmation, President Trump has now seated more than 170 federal judges, including two Supreme Court nominees.