Now that President Obama has named his selection of Loretta Lynch as the new U.S. Attorney General, the only question is: how long will it take for the Republicans in Congress to turn on her?
They don’t need much of a reason, except that she is an outstanding lawyer, a sister with impeccable credentials, a top notch pedigree and commitment to civil rights.
If confirmed, Lynch would become the nation’s first black woman attorney general, and the first U.S. attorney elevated to the position in two centuries. Given the GOP’s abysmal track record with black people — particularly African-Americans in the Obama White House, including the commander-in-chief himself — we know it is only a matter of time before it gets real.
There is no question as to Lynch’s qualifications, and the president made a solid choice for America’s next top cop. A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Lynch is the U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of New York, the chief federal prosecutor based in Brooklyn. And she has held the position twice — from 1999-2001 during the Clinton administration, and since 2010 under Obama. She developed a reputation for fighting terrorism, organized crime and white collar crime and political corruption. Lynch was involved in the investigation of Citigroup’s mortgage securities sales, which led to a $7 billion settlement with the feds. In addition, she indicted Rep. Michael G. Grimm (R-N.Y.) on alleged fraud charges.
Lynch, 55, is also the head of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, a panel of U.S. attorneys who advise the attorney general. She was the prosecutor in the infamous Abner Louima police brutality case, in which NYPD officers were convicted of torturing and sodomizing the Haitian immigrant with a broomstick in a Brooklyn precinct. One of the officers received a 30-year sentence. The horrible case helped shine the spotlight on the problem of police brutality against people of color in New York and around the nation, an ongoing disease once again brought to national attention through the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere.
Given the multitude of civil rights challenges and obstacles facing America in general and African-Americans, Latinos and other groups specifically — from police violence to voting rights to ending the war on drugs — the nation needs an aggressive and committed attorney general who will uphold the constitutional rights of the downtrodden and vulnerable.
This is precisely why the Republicans, empowered and smelling themselves after their Election Day victory — could cause some problems for this stellar candidate. It is true that Lynch, who was confirmed twice by the Senate, unanimously in 2010, is considered a safe choice. At the same time, the prosecutor works closely with the Department of Justice, and it is expected she would continue her predecessor Eric Holder’s commitment to civil rights and drug policy reform.
To begin with, Republicans have decided they are the new party of Jim Crow, against civil rights and dedicated to crushing the hopes and aspirations of African-Americans. Erasing black and brown votes is their only short-term path to victory. The Supreme Court has handed the GOP a gift in the form of the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, giving states the ability to go neo-Confederate on blacks, Hispanics, Asians and others in the form of voter suppression, purges and the dreaded voter ID requirements in red states across the nation. According to Al Jazeera, Republicans hope to purge up to 7 million voters in 27 states, including 1 in 7 African-Americans, 1 in 8 Asian-American and Latino voters and 1 in 11 white voters. Holder has been on the front lines against this GOP onslaught, and Lynch has advised him. Further, Ms. Lynch has received glowing praise from major civil rights organizations such as the NAACP and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which said “we are confident that she would continue the strong legacy of Eric Holder in trying to reduce racial bias in policing, sentencing reform and protecting the right to vote for every American.”
Second, the GOP leadership have expressed their interest in ensuring that the president fails. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — the presumptive majority leader who once said his main goal was to make Obama a one term president — said “Ms. Lynch will receive fair consideration by the Senate. And her nomination should be considered in the new Congress through regular order.”
One issue of contention is whether Lynch’s confirmation process takes place during the current lame duck session or after the new Republican-controlled Senate is sworn in. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.), a member of the Judiciary Committee and a presidential aspirant, tweeted that a vote on Lynch should take place after the new Congress convenes in January: “Democratic senators who just lost their seats shouldn’t confirm new Attorney General. Should be vetted by new Congress,” he wrote on Twitter. Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who recently joked that “white men who are in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency,” told CNN that Lynch “seems to be a solid choice” and is qualified, and he is not concerned about confirming her in the lame duck session.
Nevertheless, Republicans have displayed nothing but contempt for blacks in the Obama cabinet — current, past and prospective — because they simply cannot handle successful, brilliant and independent-thinking people of color in positions of power and above their pay grade. Besides, race-baiting makes for good political sport and energizes the GOP base. The disrespect and racial hostility the Republicans have shown towards the president and the First Lady are legendary and a matter of public record. Honest differences of opinion over policy notwithstanding, GOP lawmakers have displayed openly racial animosity towards Holder and treated him like a whipping boy.
When national security adviser and former UN ambassador Susan Rice was tapped to become the next Secretary of State, the antagonism she experienced from Republicans over her comments on Benghazi forced her to withdraw her name from consideration. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) blocked the nomination of two black federal judges and killed the nomination of the nominee who would have become the nation’s first openly gay black judge. And when Obama nominated Debo Agdibele to head the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, the Senate refused to confirm the civil rights lawyer, who was tarred and feathered in the conservative media and labeled a “cop killer coddler” for being on the legal team representing prisoner-journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal.
And during her Supreme Court nomination process, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was lambasted as a racist and labeled an unqualified affirmative action appointment by her Republican detractors for once saying “I would hope a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion that a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”
Meanwhile, the GOP has no conscious people of color in their ranks to tell them about themselves, and there is no reason to believe the three token black Republican members of Congress will speak up anytime soon.
It is clear the Republicans have at least a few agenda items for the upcoming term. One is the impeachment of that uppity Barack Obama. Another is the purging of millions of voters. Loretta Lynch should become the nation’s next attorney general and will make a difference in civil rights and fighting corruption, but it does not mean they won’t try to pull something.
Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove