Loretta Lynch comported herself very well yesterday and today in her appearances before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She was articulate, composed, confident, unruffled, gracious, and she is extremely well qualified for the position. The Committee should move quickly to confirm her appointment.
The Republicans on the committee, however, have been more interested in criticizing outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, whom they accused of being in cahoots with President Obama in ignoring and violating (my words) the Constitution of the United States. They were bent on making sure that Ms. Lynch, if confirmed, would be her own person. She assured them that she would be, but she would not comply with their attempts to get her to criticize the President’s actions regarding immigration.
Her responses to some of the questions would indicate that she is more conservative than Eric Holder. She is not opposed to capital punishment, for example, but she is opposed to the legalization of marijuana. If confirmed as Attorney General, she said that one of her “key priorities would be to work to strengthen the vital relationships between our courageous law-enforcement personnel and all the communities we serve.” Even the witnesses whom the Republicans called to testify this morning had little if anything to say about the nominee, and one or two of them did not mention her name at all. Instead they followed the party line in criticizing Mr. Holder and the President.
How refreshing it was for this observer to hear Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island chide his Republican colleagues and their witnesses for their inappropriate tactics in criticizing the outgoing Attorney General, who was not the subject of the hearing and was not there to defend himself. In his straightforward remarks Senator Whitehouse quoted Rule 89 from George Washington’s 101 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation: “Speak not evil of the absent for it is unjust.” Near the end of his remarks the Junior Senator from Rhode Island, violated his own rule, when he defended Mr. Holder by pointing out in some detail what a good job he had done in cleaning up the mess left by his Republican predecessor!
I was hoping after yesterday’s hearing that the Republicans on the committee would get off their anti-Holder track today and give the nominee more of an opportunity to share her views on the many substantive issues that she will have to confront, and her philosophy and vision of her role as Attorney General of the United States and to talk about her leadership of the Justice Department. That had not happened by the end of the morning session, at which time I had to stop listening.
Despite all of their political posturing, it is most likely that the Committee will move to confirm Ms. Lynch’s nomination. To my knowledge only Senator Ted Cruz has stated outright that he will not vote for her. One of two other Senators have expressed some concerns, but on the whole the Committee has been most complimentary of her.
As one Democratic Senator commented, if the Republicans are so concerned about Eric Holder’s leadership of the Justice Department, the best way to solve the problem is to vote immediately to replace him.
They certainly have the right person to recommend to the Senate.