Last month, when the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the nomination of Loretta Lynch, Republicans pulled out all the stops to highlight their opposition to the attorney general.
That’s not opposition to Loretta Lynch, mind you. Instead, Republicans, senators and witnesses alike, pummeled the current attorney general on issues from immigration to voting rights to national security. By the time the hearing was over, it was blazingly obvious that Republicans deeply oppose Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderArkansas legislature splits Little Rock in move that guarantees GOP seats Oregon legislature on the brink as Democrats push gerrymandered maps Christie, Pompeo named co-chairs of GOP redistricting group MORE, and that he shouldn’t expect to be confirmed by the Senate any time soon.
When asked whether they’d oppose Lynch’s nomination, not a single Republican witness said they would. Her qualifications are recognized outside the hearing room, as well. Even Rudy Giuliani said he supports her confirmation.
By any reasonable standard Loretta Lynch is superbly qualified to serve as our nation’s highest law enforcement officer. She’s twice led one of the most active and effective U.S. Attorney’s offices in the country, vigorously prosecuting civil rights abuses, terrorism and human trafficking while building a reputation as a lawyer’s lawyer and a hands-on executive. Throughout her hearings and her career she’s demonstrated again and again that she has the experience, the intellect and the integrity to be confirmed and to serve as Attorney General.
And yet, since that hearing, Republican leaders have dragged their feet on her nomination. Some Republicans have attacked her for declining to answer hypothetical questions—although they had no such qualms for Attorney General Michael Mukasey when he did the same. Others dislike that she didn’t disavow the Obama administration’s recent executive action on immigration, as if she should be penalized for expressing the view, supported by the Office of Legal Counsel in a publicly released memorandum that legal scholars across the country agree with, that the administration has the legal authority to issue such an order.
Ultimately, Lynch passed out of committee with the support of three Republican members.
It’s obvious that those who opposed her decided to treat Loretta Lynch’s nomination as a proxy for the entire Obama administration. Led by Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised The Senate confirmation process is broken — Senate Democrats can fix it Australian politician on Cruz, vaccines: 'We don't need your lectures, thanks mate' MORE (R-Texas), those senators are fighting hard against the first African American woman nominated to be attorney general as part of a petty partisan grudge match. They oppose President Obama and his policies on a range of issues, and they’ve decided to take it out on Loretta Lynch.
Now that her nomination is on the Senate floor, Lynch once again faces delays stemming from the partisan gridlock that Americans are already sick of in the 114th Congress.
Republicans have a choice. They can follow Cruz’s lead, attacking an historic and superbly qualified nominee to score political points, or they can put the wellbeing of the country and the Department of Justice first and vote to confirm an excellent attorney general.
If Republicans put politics aside, the choice is clear: they’ll vote to confirm Loretta Lynch.
Baker is executive vice president of People For the American Way, a progressive advocacy group.