Giffords Launches Campaign To Block Trump Judicial Nominee
AP Photo/Lido Vizzutti, File

One of the most enduring legacies of the Trump administration is likely to be the number of federal judges he’s been able to appoint with the help of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Unless Democrats decide to overhaul the federal judiciary and pack the courts with judges of their own the next time they have the chance to do so, the judges appointed by President Trump are likely to have a big influence for decades to come.

Lawrence VanDyke is one of those appointees, and with his Senate confirmation vote for a seat as a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals coming up next week, anti-gun groups are attempting to sway the votes of a few Republicans by accusing VanDyke of “being an NRA mouthpiece”.

Gun safety organization Giffords and judicial group Demand Justice plan to launch a joint ad campaign to pressure Republican senators to reject one of President Trump‘s circuit court nominees.

The groups will run an ad campaign targeting GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), John Cornyn (Texas), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Thom Tillis (N.C.), all of whom are up for reelection in 2020, asking them to vote against Trump nominee Lawrence VanDyke…

The ads, which particularly highlight VanDyke’s gun rights stances, will run on Facebook and Instagram starting Friday.

“This NRA mouthpiece shouldn’t be a judge. Vote no,” one of the ads will say, referring to the National Rifle Association.

VanDyke is the former Solicitor General of both Nevada and Montana, a graduate of Harvard Law School, and never worked for the NRA, but because he’s supported the Second Amendment rights of Americans, he must be an “NRA mouthpiece,” according to the anti-gun groups.

What gun control groups are ostensibly upset about is the fact that as Solicitor General, VanDyke signed on to several amicus briefs in support of the individual right to keep and bear arms in several court cases, although I’m sure the fact that he’s a competitive shooter probably bugs the bejeebers out of them as well.

It’s true that VanDyke would undoubtably move the 9th Circuit further to the right, continuing a process begun by Donald Trump several years ago, and that’s what’s really leading the efforts by gun control groups to squash the nomination. It used to be the 9th Circuit was the most reliably leftist court of appeals in the country, but the 9th Circuit now has almost equal number of judges appointed by Democrats and Republicans. Every Trump-appointed judge is another judge that’s far more likely to treat the right to keep and bear arms as an actual right, and not relegate it to second-class status. That’s important in the 9th Circuit, where multiple challenges to gun control laws like California’s magazine ban and ammunition background checks are among the cases that could soon be heard by the judges on the court of appeals.

The campaign that Giffords and Demand Justice have launched isn’t going to change the minds of any of the Republican senators targeted by the ads, but the gun control groups will use the vote for VanDyke in ads later this election cycle. As The Hill noted, it’s no coincidence that all four of the senators who are the subjects of these ads are up for reelection next November. Come fall, expect Lawrence VanDyke to be on the 9th Circuit, and gun control groups to be on the airwaves in Iowa, Colorado, Texas, Maine, and North Carolina with campaign ads bashing senators for their votes.