Transitioning to the other side of the courtroom, Lawrence VanDyke is converting from appellate lawyer to state judge.
A member of Oklahoma Christian University’s 1996 graduating class, VanDyke has been nominated by the White House to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which governs nine western states.
VanDyke graduated from Oklahoma Christian with a degree in engineering and continued his education at Montana State, obtaining a master’s degree in 1997. After working for his family’s small construction management business, VanDyke attended Harvard Law School, where he served as the editor for both the Harvard Law Review and the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.
VanDyke, who has served as Nevada’s solicitor general for the past four years, held the same title in Montana and was the assistant solicitor general in Texas prior to this transition.
In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, columnists Mark Hutchinson and Adam Laxalt commented on the qualifications which make VanDyke a viable candidate for nomination.
“These impressive credentials provide a solid foundation for Mr. VanDyke’s service as a federal judge,” Hutchinson said. “He has handled matters related to criminal procedure, education, prisons, business regulation, federalism, employment law, technology and more. A judge must grasp new areas of law. Mr. VanDyke’s career has been preparation for that task.”
VanDyke’s list of political accomplishments started with the establishment of a Federalism Unit to combat unlawful overreach by the federal government. He secured an order enforcing the EPA’s 2015 “Waters of the United States” rule, which expanded federal power over state and local waters and imposed burdens on ranches, farms and government entities.
VanDyke has also litigated in defense of the Second Amendment and religious freedom. He filed the multi-state amicus briefs at both the circuit and Supreme Court levels in the “Trinity Lutheran” case.
Hutchinson and Lexalt continued to state his capabilities as a lawyer will aid in his shift to a member of the Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Mr. VanDyke’s dexterity in zeroing in on critical points made him a powerful and persuasive lawyer before judges,” Hutchinson said. “It will serve him equally well as a judge before lawyers. In fact, one of the prime characteristics of an appellate judge is crafting clear-eyed, well-reasoned options that tackle challenging legal issues.”
Lexalt went on to address the arguments made against his nomination, stating VanDyke’s individual beliefs will not affect his ability to rule equitably.
“You may hear critics conflate Mr. VanDyke’s positions as a lawyer with his personal views,” Lexalt said. “Don’t buy into this political partisanship. The best thing for our country, our state and the rule of law is to have smart, hardworking and fair judges on the federal bench. That is Lawrence VanDyke.”
Freshman engineering major Carter Hines noted VanDyke’s success is trailblazing for other Oklahoma Christian students majoring in a similar field.
“It is reaffirming to know that an individual like VanDyke, who has gone through what I am going through now, has created such a notable career and continues to climb in the professional ranks,” Hines said. “It’s a path that has been paved, and it’s great to see an Oklahoma Christian alumnus be the one to do it.”