“I am here to tell you, if a little girl from North Carolina who used to tell her grandfather in the fields to lift her up on the back of his mule so she could see ‘way up high Granddaddy’, can become the chief law enforcement officer of the United States of America, then we can do anything.” New U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch
Lynch Joins P.A. James in Strategic “Firsts” for African-American Women and American History
Public Advocate Letitia A. James, the highest-ranking woman in New York City politics and the first Black woman to ever hold the title of Public Advocate, roundly congratulated Harvard-educated Loretta Lynch on her confirmation as the top law enforcement official in the United States, and being the first African-American woman to serve as the United States’ 83rd U.S. Attorney General.
Ms. James said, “Loretta Lynch is an experienced and exceptional leader who has demonstrated a mastery of our criminal justice system, and I congratulate her on her confirmation as the next U.S. Attorney General”, in a statement issued immediately following the confirmation on Thursday, April 23.
Ms. Lynch, 55, a North Carolina native, served as a U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York with offices in Brooklyn. Last Thursday, April 23 she was nominated by the Senate by a vote of 56-43, ending a five-month partisan deadlock over her nomination by President Barack Obama. She replaces Eric Holder, who left the position Friday after serving as attorney general for six years.
She was sworn in this past Monday (27) by Vice President Joe Biden at a Justice Department ceremony before friends and family, lawyers and supporters. During the proceedings, Lynch pledged that the agency would “use justice as our compass” in confronting terrorism, cyberattacks and other threats facing the country.
“We can imbue our criminal justice system with both strength and fairness, for the protection of both the needs of victims and the rights of all. We can restore trust and faith both in our laws and in those of us who enforce them,” Lynch said.
Biden said Lynch had shown grace during the months-long confirmation process, in which her nomination became caught up in Congress in a dispute over human trafficking legislation. He also acknowledged her strong professional background and her personal story as the daughter of a librarian mother and a fourth-generation Baptist preacher who would take his daughter to the courthouse to observe important cases.
She had waited for a vote longer than the last seven attorneys general combined. She was confirmed 166 days after she was first nominated for the post. Two other attorney generals waited longer: Edwin Meese, 386 days, confirmed under President Ronald Reagan, and Mitchell Palmer, 182 days, during the Woodrow Wilson Administration.
“As the first woman of color to hold this position, Ms. Lynch understands the complex challenges facing diverse communities across our nation,” referencing the new U.S. Attorney General’s becoming the first black woman to occupy the post at a time when deadly altercations between white police and unarmed black men are making global headlines.
President Obama said, “America will be better off for (Lynch’s nomination)”, adding, “ (and) 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 shapes the story of our country.”
Ten Republicans voted for Lynch, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Of the Republicans who backed her, four are up for reelection next year, three of them from states with big cities that have large African-American populations.
As attorney general, she will most likely confront civil rights cases stemming from police altercations in several U.S. cities and also faces financial cases alleging some of the world’s largest banks helped clients evade U.S. taxes and manipulated currency markets.
P.A. James said, “I am glad Senate Republicans finally got past their personal, petty politics so that Ms. Lynch can get to work”.