On the Senate Floor, Tester Urges Colleagues to Follow in Montana’s Footsteps and Reject VanDyke for Ninth Circuit Court

Senator: “There is absolutely no reason we can’t find someone better suited for this position.”

Before the Senate confirmation vote on former Montana Solicitor General and failed Montana Supreme Court candidate Lawrence VanDyke to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. Senator Jon Tester took to the Senate floor, urging his colleagues to follow Montana’s lead and reject the nomination. The Ninth Circuit has jurisdiction over Montana.

In an impassioned speech, Tester called out VanDyke’s lack of experience, poor work ethic, and problematic policy positions, and demanded that his colleagues put partisan politics aside and do what’s right for Montana. VanDyke previously ran for a position on the Montana Supreme Court, but lost the election by a significant margin.

“Montanans can separate the wheat from the chaff pretty well, and after examining his record and judgment, they found Mr. VanDyke unqualified to serve on our state’s highest court,” said Tester. “Montanans rejected him overwhelmingly at the ballot box, but now the Majority Leader wants to give him a lifetime seat on the bench.”

Tester cited VanDyke’s problematic record of supporting mining and drilling in public lands, supporting unchecked money in elections, opposition to same-sex marriage, and VanDyke’s belief that the government should insert itself between a woman and her doctor.

Tester also brought up VanDyke’s lack of any judicial experience and poor work ethic, citing his “not qualified” rating from the nonpartisan, nonpolitical American Bar Association as well as opposition from his former coworkers in the Montana Solicitor General’s office and past Montana Supreme Court Justices.

“It is doubtful that he understands that judicial decisions must be based solely on the facts of the case and on the law,” wrote six former Montana Supreme Court Justices in a letter to the Senate. “We strongly believe that Mr. Van Dyke has demonstrated that he has neither the qualifications nor the temperament to serve as a federal court of appeals judge.”