The Senate has confirmed a top Justice Department lawyer with ties to Montana as a federal appeals court judge, despite a “not qualified” rating from the American Bar Association and sharp opposition from his home-state senator.
Lawrence VanDyke, a deputy assistant attorney general, on Wednesday won a seat on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which covers nine Western states. The vote was 51-44.
VanDyke previously served four years as Nevada's solicitor general, after a similar term as solicitor general in Montana and a failed campaign for Montana Supreme Court.
Montana’s two U.S. Senators split their vote on VanDyke’s confirmation.
Republican Senator Steve Daines voted to confirm, saying VanDyke was a good man and beyond qualified and the subject of attacks from far-left activists and the American Bar Association.
Democrat Jon Tester urged his colleagues to reject the nomination. Tester said VanDyke lacked any judicial experience, had poor work ethic and noted opposition to the nomination from six former Montana Supreme Court Justices.