President Obama over the weekend picked Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to become the next attorney general to lead the U.S. Department of Justice. The nomination follows in the same trajectory of outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, who became the first African-American to lead the DOJ. If confirmed, Lynch will be the first Black woman to head the Justice Department.
Her selection to complete the last two years of the Obama presidency comes on the heels of the devastating midterm election results where Democrats saw Republicans take both the House and the Senate. Lynch’s nomination will be the first litmus test between the White House and Republican congressional leaders, whether they will push to see the president’s nominee for AG confirmed sooner than expected.
Though her nomination is expected to win bipartisan support because she has twice been confirmed as a top federal prosecutor in New York, it remains unclear how Republicans in the Senate will respond to her nomination. Obama has indicated he would not push her nomination right away through the current Senate controlled by Democrats, but would rather wait until January when the new Senate takes over, dominated by Republicans who won a sweeping victory on Nov. 4.
“It’s pretty hard to be more qualified for this job than Loretta. Throughout her 30-year career, she has distinguished herself as tough, as fair, an independent lawyer who has twice headed one of the most prominent U.S. Attorney’s offices in the country. She has spent years in the trenches as a prosecutor, aggressively fighting terrorism, financial fraud, cybercrime, all while vigorously defending civil rights,” Obama said. “One of her proudest achievements was the civil rights prosecution of the officers involved in the brutal assault of the Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. Loretta might be the only lawyer in America who battles mobsters and drug lords and terrorists, and still has the reputation for being a charming ‘people person.’”
Cornell William Brooks, national NAACP president, hailed the nomination as the right choice for moving civil rights forward.
“The NAACP commends President Obama for nominating Loretta E. Lynch to serve as the next attorney general of the United States. Her nomination couldn’t have come at a more critical time in our nation’s history. As an attorney with extraordinary depth, breadth and length of service in both the public and private sector, Ms. Lynch is uniquely qualified to lead the Department of Justice,” Brooks said.
“From her exemplary service with U.S. Attorneys Office of Eastern District of New York to her experience prosecuting the Abner Louima case, Ms. Lynch is an excellent choice to succeed Attorney General Eric Holder in his groundbreaking work for the American people. We appreciate both her exceptional experience and her demonstrated commitment to the civil rights protection for all Americans. We look forward to working with Ms. Lynch to ensure that our nation’s voting rights laws, employment protection laws and anti-housing discrimination laws are strictly and fairly enforced.”
Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights also applauded Obama for choosing Lynch.
“We applaud the president’s expected nomination of Loretta Lynch to be our nation’s next attorney general. She is a strong, fair and independent prosecutor who has served two presidential administrations with distinction,” Henderson said. “Lynch would bring a steady hand to guide the Department of Justice and would make history as the first African-American woman to serve as attorney general. Having already unanimously confirmed Lynch twice as U.S. attorney, we urge the Senate to approach its third confirmation process with integrity and expedience in the lame duck session.”