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Top U.S. Antitrust Chief Blasts ABA Over Trump Judge Rating

Nov. 18, 2019, 10:53 PM

The American Bar Association’s unqualified rating of President Trump’s federal appellate nominee, Lawrence VanDyke, “undermines” the group’s important work in all areas of the law, a top Justice Department official said Nov. 18.

The ABA’s judicial ratings report on VanDyke “paints a distributing picture of the abuse that all of us lawyers should take seriously and try to work to remedy,” Makan Delrahim, the head of the DOJ’s antitrust division, said at an ABA antitrust conference in Washington.

Delrahim cited reports that allege the ABA committee “may” have broken its own rules in issuing the report on VanDyke, who currently serves as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

VanDyke, who is up for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, was called “arrogant, lazy and an ideologue,” according to interviews with peers which the ABA published ahead of his Oct. 30 confirmation hearing.

A majority of the ABA panel rated VanDyke as “Not Qualified” for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench, according to the letter from standing committee chair William Hubbard.

Delrahim, who referred to VanDyke as his colleague at the DOJ, said other ABA law sections should look to the antitrust section “when it comes to advancing the legal profession on fair and non-partisan terms.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on VanDyke’s nomination on Nov. 21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Graham in Washington at vgraham@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com