03.04.15

Leahy Again Urges Senate Vote For AG Nominee Loretta Lynch

WASHINGTON (Wednesday, March 4, 2015) – Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) took to the floor on Wednesday for a second time this week to call for a confirmation vote for Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch.

Lynch’s nomination was reported on a bipartisan vote by the Judiciary Committee last week.  Her nomination has been pending longer than those of the five previous Attorneys General.  Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, Leahy highlighted Lynch’s record as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York which he said “shows that as Attorney General, Ms. Lynch will effectively, fairly, and independently enforce the law.”

Leahy also highlighted Lynch’s compelling personal story and the example set by her father, the Reverend Lorenzo Lynch, a Baptist preacher who in the 1960s opened his church’s basement to the civil rights leaders and students who organized lunch counter sit-ins in North Carolina. 

Reverend Lynch “taught his only daughter that ‘ideals are wonderful things, but unless you can share them with others and make this world a better place, they’re just words.’  The fact that she has dedicated the majority of her career to public service reaffirms that she has lived those ideals of justice in the service of others,” Leahy said.

“All Senators should examine Loretta Lynch’s nomination based on her record, her accomplishments, and her extraordinary character,” he added.  “I call on the Republican Leader to schedule an immediate vote on Loretta Lynch’s confirmation, which has been pending 116 days.  Let us not deprive the American people of even one more day of having Loretta Lynch as their Attorney General.”    

Lynch’s nomination is supported by former New York Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, who was appointed by a Republican, and New York’s current police commissioner William Bratton, who was appointed by a Democrat. Her nomination also has the support of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), fellow prosecutors, civil rights groups, and legal practitioners.

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Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee,
On the Nomination of Loretta Lynch
to Serve as Attorney General of the United States
March 4, 2015

Almost four months ago, President Obama announced his intention to nominate Loretta Lynch to be our country’s next Attorney General.  I had the privilege of attending the White House ceremony and took this picture as Ms. Lynch was explaining why she was excited about the challenge of become our Nation’s chief law enforcement officer.  She noted with admiration that “the Department of Justice is the only cabinet department named for an ideal.” 

We know from Loretta Lynch’s long public service career that she will aspire to make that ideal a reality once she becomes the Attorney General of the United States.  As the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Ms. Lynch has brought countless terrorists and cyber-criminals to justice, obtained convictions against corrupt public officials from both political parties, and fought tirelessly against violent crime and financial fraud.  Her record shows that as Attorney General, Ms. Lynch will effectively, fairly, and independently enforce the law.

Her record of accomplishment is bolstered by the faith and values instilled in her by her family. The Judiciary Committee was honored to have her proud father, the Reverend Lorenzo Lynch, with us not only at both days of her historic hearings in January but also last Thursday as the Committee considered his daughter’s historic nomination. 

When Loretta Lynch was a young child, Reverend Lynch bravely opened his church’s basement to the students and others who organized lunch counter sit-ins in North Carolina.  He taught his only daughter that “ideals are wonderful things, but unless you can share them with others and make this world a better place, they’re just words.”  The fact that she has dedicated the majority of her career to public service reaffirms that she has lived those ideals of justice in the service of others.

Last week, the Committee reported her nomination favorably with a bipartisan vote.  The vote should have been unanimous. I expect that if the President who nominated her had been a Republican, she would have been confirmed by now.  But in the sixth year of this administration, perhaps there is no one who could be confirmed unanimously because those Republicans who are opposing Ms. Lynch are not doing so based on her record.  They are opposing her because they disagree with a decision that this President made and that she played no part in.  I do not think that is treating this nominee fairly. 

One need only look at her supporters to know how nonpartisan her nomination really is.

Louis Freeh, former director of the FBI and Federal judge, has written that “[i]n my twenty-five years of public service – 23 in the Department of Justice – I cannot think of a more qualified nominee to be America’s chief law enforcement officer.”  The current New York Police Commissioner, who was appointed by a Democrat, and a former New York Police Commissioner, who was appointed by a Republican, both strongly support her nomination. 

Even prominent Fox News hosts have praised Loretta Lynch’s work as a prosecutor.  Bill O’Reilly has called her a “hero” for her prosecution of a child rapist.  Megyn Kelly has described Ms. Lynch as a “straight shooter” for her service as a Federal prosecutor, and especially for her crack down on gang crime and terrorism.

Ms. Lynch also has broad support from law enforcement, fellow prosecutors, civil rights groups, and numerous other prominent individuals.  I ask consent to submit a list of letters in support of her nomination following my remarks.

In January, Ms. Lynch testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee for nearly 8 hours and she has now responded to nearly 900 questions for the record.  Not a single witness invited by Republicans actually opposed her nomination. 

Despite all of this, some Republican Senators voted “no” on her nomination in Committee.  Some of these Senators opposed her because she would not renounce the President’s executive action to keep immigrant families together.  Of course, in attacking her for this, they fail to acknowledge that if Republican leadership in the House had just allowed a vote on the immigration reform bill that passed the Senate, then the President would not have been compelled to act.  I hope we can all agree that legislation is needed to fix our broken immigration system.  No president can fix it.  Congress must act.  But to blame the Attorney General nominee for this is simply unfair.  She played no part in the President’s decision to set the prosecutorial priorities of the administration.  As a Federal prosecutor in New York, no one has claimed that Ms. Lynch has failed to enforce the law.  There is no legitimate reason to delay her vote any longer.   

All Senators should examine Loretta Lynch’s nomination based on her record, her accomplishments, and her extraordinary character.  I call on the Republican Leader to schedule an immediate vote on Loretta Lynch’s confirmation, which has been pending 116 days.  Let us not deprive the American people of even one more day of having Loretta Lynch as their Attorney General.    

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