Senate GOP, stop the gamesmanship and confirm Loretta Lynch

It’s been more than 124 days, and counting, since President Obama nominated Loretta Lynch to succeed Eric Holder as U.S. Attorney General. If confirmed, Lynch would be the first African-American woman to lead the Department of Justice. But her confirmation has been an unfair and unprecedentedly slow process. In partisan efforts to challenge Obama’s agenda and force Democrats’ hand into unwilling compromise, some politicians are purposely stalling her nomination. At a time when the urgency of the attorney general’s role, particularly in civil rights cases, is heightened, the American public doesn’t have time for political gamesmanship.

For more than a month, politicians have delayed putting Lynch’s nomination to a vote. First, a group of prominent Republican lawmakers threatened to block her confirmation as a challenge to Obama’s executive action on immigration. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced he would delay a vote unless Democrats agreed to keep anti-abortion language snuck into a human trafficking bill.

{mosads}In stark contrast to this partisan subterfuge, Lynch has received support for her confirmation – from Democrats and Republicans alike – because she is exceedingly qualified for the job. In her commitment to public service and dedication to a just democracy, Lynch has proven herself to be a fair-minded, independent and effective leader.

As the U.S. Attorney for New York’s Eastern District during the 1990s, Lynch helped prosecute and convict New York City police officers for their brutal beating and sexual assault of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. This high-profile incident was a landmark case in efforts to end police brutality, an issue that Lynch, if confirmed, would tackle as attorney general at a time when the deaths of unarmed African Americans, such as Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tony Robinson, have been elevated to national discussion. Increased awareness of the over-criminalization of people of color – amid the Department of Justice’s recent report on misconduct of the Ferguson’s Police Department misconduct, and a White House task force focused on transforming how police interact with our communities – also makes Lynch’s experience on this issue especially critical.

During her tenure as U.S. Attorney for New York, Lynch also worked to convict those who had coordinated the failed al-Qaeda attack on the New York subway system. She has prosecuted corrupt lawmakers, including the successful convictions of former New York State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Jr. on embezzlement charges and Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) for perjury and wire fraud, among other violations. This varied wealth of experience has more than prepared her to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

This is why Lynch has already been confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, with bipartisan support that included approval from Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch (Utah), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.). During the committee hearings, she was questioned for over eight hours, answered more than 900 questions and did not have a single witness oppose her nomination, further verifying her experience, character and credibility. Broad support for Lynch’s confirmation has also included numerous civil rights organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, 25 former U.S. Attorneys from both Republican and Democratic administrations, the law enforcement community and fellow prosecutors.  

Lynch has made clear, time and again, that the United States must ensure equal opportunity and equal protection under the law. At a time of many civil rights challenges – from fighting rollbacks to voting rights, to demanding an end to the school-to-prison pipeline, and stopping police militarization and brutality in communities of color – the American public deserves an executive in its Justice Department who is committed to eliminating racial injustice. Partisan politics cannot stand in the way of progress. It’s time for the Senate to put a stop to its stalling and grandstanding – and give Lynch a fair, swift vote as our next attorney general.

Dianis is a veteran civil rights attorney and co-director at Advancement Project, a multi-racial civil rights organization. 

Tags Eric Holder Jeff Flake Lindsey Graham Mitch McConnell Orrin Hatch

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