Loretta E. Lynch became the first African–American woman confirmed to be U.S. attorney general April 23 after the Senate voted 56-43 in favor of her nomination.
Ten Republicans joined 44 Democrats and two Independents to support the nomination, which was delayed as the Senate struggled to reach agreement on provisions in a human trafficking bill. That bill, S. 178, passed by a unanimous 99-0 vote on April 22 following a compromise.
The confirmation vote came more than five months after President Obama nominated Lynch, who has served as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York since 2010 and also held that post from June 1999 to May 2001 after joining the office in 1990. She was a partner at the law firm of Hogan & Hartson between her two U.S. attorney appointments. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School.
Despite Lynch’s credentials and experience, some Republicans opposed her nomination because of her support for the president’s immigration policies, which would grant, through a series of executive actions, protection from deportation to up to five million undocumented immigrants. The 10 Republicans voting for confirmation were: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Susan Collins (Maine), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Orrin G. Hatch (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Rob Portman (Ohio).
“Today, the Senate finally confirmed Loretta Lynch to be America’s next attorney general – and America will be better off for it,” the president said after the vote, emphasizing that her confirmation “ensures that we are better positioned to keep our communities safe, keep our nation secure, and ensure that every American experiences justice under the law.”
“As head of the Justice Department, she will oversee a vast portfolio of cases, including counterterrorism and voting rights; public corruption and white-collar crime; judicial recommendations and policy reviews – all of which matter to the lives of every American, and shape the story of our country. She will bring to bear her experience as a tough, independent, and well-respected prosecutor on key, bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform. And she will build on our progress in combatting newer threats like cybercrime,” he said.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said he is pleased that the Senate has recognized Lynch’s clear qualifications and said he is “confident that Loretta will be an outstanding attorney general, a dedicated guardian of the Constitution, and a devoted champion of all those whom the law protects and empowers.”