Loretta Lynch has made history as the nation’s first Black female U.S. attorney general. She was named to the post on Thursday, Apr. 23, 2015, following a five-month delay. This delay is longer than the previous seven attorneys general combined. Lynch becomes the first African-American woman to hold the position and the nation’s 83rd chief law enforcement officer. She is expected to be sworn in on Monday, April 27.
The final vote was 56-43 to confirm Lynch to her post. Her confirmation was assured once 10 Republican senators publicly announced their support needed for confirmation. Among those Republicans announcing their support for the embattled nominee included Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mark Kirk of Illinois, and Orrin Hatch of Utah.
The exaggerated delay in the vote for Lynch’s confirmation further highlighted a political paralysis that often grips the Capitol, and cast an unflattering spotlight on continued partisan politics that have stalled action on many key matters affecting the nation. Moreover, the languished delay in voting prompted a backlash of criticism from Democrats as well as some Republicans, many of whom are tired of the political games and shenanigans.
Several factors contributed to the delay in Lynch being named the first Black female U.S. attorney general. In recent weeks, a month-long impasse in the Senate was encountered over legislation aimed at curbing human trafficking. The trafficking bill became overshadowed via a dispute regarding an abortion clause included in the measure that was unforeseen and caught Democrats off-guard. As a result, McConnell said the Senate would not move forward with a vote on Lynch’s confirmation until the trafficking legislation was approved. This impasse, along with the Easter recess, further delayed Lynch’s nomination and subsequent confirmation to the post. On Wednesday, a revised trafficking bill was unanimously approved by the Senate, which removed the final obstacle for a vote on Lynch’s appointment.
Lynch, who previously served as Brooklyn’s chief federal prosecutor, was originally nominated for the post by President Obama in November 2014. Following two days of confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee in January 2015, she emerged largely unscathed when Democrats emphasized the nominee’s impressive legal résumé, which included her Harvard law degree and two stints as the U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York, as well as her upstanding character and reputation as tough but fair.
Viewed as a further stumbling block for her confirmation, Republicans questioned Lynch’s support for President Obama’s controversial executive action on immigration that would shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation. As a result, Lynch was grilled on her interpretation of the immigration action by Republicans. While the nominee suggested an “appropriate” use of law enforcement resources to instigate the removal of illegal immigrants linked to violent crime, Lynch repeatedly stated she saw “no reason to doubt the reasonableness” of Obama’s executive immigration action.
On Thursday, April 23, Loretta Lynch made history when she was named the nation’s first Black female U.S. attorney general. She was appointed to the post following an exaggerated five-month delay, which is longer than the previous seven attorneys general combined. Lynch becomes the first African-American woman to hold the position and the nation’s 83rd chief law enforcement officer. She is expected to be sworn in on Monday, April 27.
Written and Edited by Leigh Haugh