President Obama announced his nomination of Loretta Lynch, current U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, on November 8. Lynch will become the first African American female Attorney General in U.S history. But her confirmation has been dragged on by the Senate for six months.
Why is the Senate taking so long to confirm Lynch? Current Attorney General Eric Holder announced his retirement on September 25, 2014. Lynch was cleared by the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 26 by a vote of 12-8. Now that the delay for Lynch’s confirm has officially hits six months—a period longer than any other Attorney General’s confirmation in history—Lynch supporters are demanding real answers.
According to CNN, Lynch supporters in her hometown of North Carolina suggest the cause of the delay is because she’s African American. In March, Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-North Carolina and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus said, “I think race certainly can be considered as a major factor in the reason for this delay, but it’s also the irrationality of the new Republicans.”
Senator Dick Durbin, D-Illinois compared Lynch’s extended confirmation to the segregated south, stating Lynch has been “asked to sit in the back of the bus when it comes to the Senate calendar.”
John McCain defended the Senate condemning Durbin’s statements. “It was offensive and unnecessary, and I think he owes this body, Ms. Lynch and all Americans an apology.”
Lynch’s father, Lorenzo Lynch, a retired Baptist minister and longtime civil rights activist in Durham, told CNN Durbin’s comments should be commended. “That’s a poetic description of what has happened and poetry, like most language, is limited but it does have wings to carry a point.”
Members of the Senate deny the delay is due to Lynch’s race citing Holder’s confirmation by an overwhelming margin in 2009.
But some believe, Lynch’s delay is trapped somewhere in the middle of a continual Democratic and Republican battle.
Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell explained he won’t schedule a final vote to confirm Lynch until the bipartisan human trafficking bill passes the chamber. Democrats in the Senate oppose the bill because of its anti-abortion language. The bill restricts funding for abortions.
“Her consciousness was shaped in the crucible of the civil rights movement. That is what they fear.”
Notorious Republican Rudy Giuliani spoke out against the Senate’s stalling, joining other law enforcement leaders in support of Lynch at press call on March 20—Lynch worked under Giuliani when he was mayor of New York. Giuliani said, “I find Loretta Lynch not only to be an acceptable appointment. I find her to be an extraordinary appointment.”
A day later, president Obama expressed his frustration with the Senate’s delay on confirming Lynch. “You don’t hold attorney general nominees hostage for other issues. This is our top law enforcement office. Nobody denies that she’s well-qualified, we need to go ahead and get her done.”
Still Lynch supporters insist the Senate’s extreme delay on confirming Lynch isn’t only due to her race, but because of her political leanings.
North Carolina NAACP Branch President Rev. William Barber II says if Lynch were more aligned with Clarence Thomas’ politics, she would have been confirmed by now. “Her consciousness was shaped in the crucible of the civil rights movement. That is what they fear.”
Days after Hillary Clinton announced her run for presidency in 2016, others suggest Republican’s choice not to get behind Lynch could create more distance between African American and female voters and the GOP adding more fuel to Clinton’s campaign.
Seems the extreme right is stalling the inevitable. There are more Senators behind Lynch than not, and whenever the Senate as a whole decides to end this bipartisan silliness and confirm Lynch, she will become the very first African American female Attorney General in U.S. history, whether they like it or not.