VanDyke’s Extreme Views on Gun Safety on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Would Endanger Us All

Washington, D.C., November 21, 2019 – Today, Brady called on the U.S. Senate to reject the nomination of Lawrence J.C. VanDyke for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Brady was disappointed that the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to refer VanDyke’s nomination favorably to the full Senate for a vote, having already voiced its opposition in a letter to the Judiciary Committee outlining VanDyke’s extreme positions and interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Brady President Kris Brown stated:

The President shall appoint Officers of the United States with the Advice and Consent of the Senate. The President has nominated Lawrence VanDyke for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and we the people do not consent. The Senate must not consent, either. We are disappointed that the Judiciary Committee referred Mr. VanDyke’s nomination to the Senate. He is unqualified. Mr. VanDyke holds views on the Second Amendment, guns and gun safety that are not only far outside of the mainstream, but just flat out wrong. According to his own statements, Mr. VanDyke opposes common-sense policies like closing the loophole on the unrestricted private sale of guns, which is supported by a bipartisan majority of Americans, and supports extreme policies such as allowing guns on college campuses and the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Mr. VanDyke’s voice on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals would make us all less safe. We urge the Senate to vote ‘no’ on Mr. VanDyke when his nomination comes to the floor.

As an unsuccessful candidate for the Montana Supreme Court in 2014, Lawrence VanDyke submitted a questionnaire to the National Rifle Association. Mr. VanDyke responded that he believes that gun violence prevention laws are “misdirected.” The contents of that questionnaire also show that Mr. VanDyke:

  • Would not support any additional legislation or regulations on ammunition or firearms
  • Would not support restrictions on the possession, ownership, purchase, sale, and/or transfer of semi-automatic weapons
  • Would not support restrictions on the possession, ownership, purchase, sale and/or transfer of high-capacity magazines
  • Would not support closing loopholes on gun sales by private dealers or at gun shows

Given these facts: Brady does not support Mr. VanDyke’s nomination.

Brady Vice President of Policy Christian Heyne added:

Lawrence VanDyke has proven that he is unfit to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Not only did the American Bar Association determine that Mr. VanDyke is not qualified for this position, but the nominating committee emphasized that a “substantial majority of the committee” reached that conclusion. More worryingly, though maybe unsurprisingly, the committee found Mr. VanDyke “an ideologue” who “does not have an open mind, and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful.” Considering what we know about VanDyke’s extreme views on the Second Amendment and self-professed ties to the NRA, these insights are particularly troubling. It is disturbing that the Judiciary Committee chose to refer Mr. VanDyke’s nomination to the Senate floor for a vote. Now, the Senate must vote ‘no’ on this nomination.

Lawrence VanDyke not only has a proven track record of opposing common-sense gun violence prevention actions and actively stopping their implementation, but also in radically interpreting the Second Amendment. In his defense of the Firearms Freedom Act, he egregiously argued that federal law should not apply to firearms and ammunition manufactured in Montana, despite the clear authority of the federal government provided by the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. VanDyke will not apply the Second Amendment consistent with precedent.

As Montana Solicitor General, VanDyke joined a brief opposing New York and Connecticut’s ban on semi-automatic assault weapons, argued that the federal government should not have the power to regulate guns in Montana, and argued that a ballot initiative passed by Nevada voters requiring federal background checks on all firearms sales was unenforceable.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was referred the nomination of Lawrence VanDyke by President Trump from the United States Senate on October 15, 2019 and began hearings the nomination on October 30. On November 21, the Judiciary Committee voted to refer VanDyke’s nomination favorably to the full Senate for a vote.

Lawrence VanDyke’s nomination is opposed by numerous legal, civil rights and gun violence prevention groups, including the Alliance for Justice, Giffords Law Center and 10 LGBTQ advocacy groups.

Lawrence VanDyke must not serve on the U.S. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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