The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the nomination of North Carolina native Loretta Lynch to serve as the country’s next Attorney General by a 12-8 vote.
The vote fell largely along party lines, with three Republican senators — Orrin Hatch, Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake — joining all nine Democratic senators on the committee in voting “yes.”
North Carolina’s new senator, former state House Speaker Thom Tillis, voted “no” on the Lynch nomination, a decision he announced via Twitter just shortly before the committee meeting this morning.
In a later release, Tillis elaborated on his reasons — which included the Justice Department’s voting rights lawsuit against the state and Lynch’s alleged stance on the President’s immigration policies — but said that if Lynch was confirmed he would work with her “on key areas of agreement.”
I hope she will prove my concerns unfounded by rebuilding the Department of Justice’s fractured relationship with Congress, put an end to the costly and politically motivated ligation against North Carolina, and most importantly, restore the Department’s reputation for legal integrity that is divorced from politics.
With the committee’s approval, Lynch now moves to a vote by the full Senate, on a date and time yet to be set. If confirmed there, Lynch will become the first African-American woman and the first native North Carolinian to serve in that role.
The daughter of a black Baptist minister and a school librarian who once picked cotton in the eastern part of North Carolina, Lynch made her way from Durham to Brooklyn, where she has twice led the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
As chief there, Lynch earned the respect of law enforcement officials and prosecutors from both sides of the aisle, many of whom voiced support for her nomination at the time of her committee confirmation hearing in January.
And prior to the committee vote this morning, even those Republican senators voting “no” on her nomination conceded that she was immensely qualified and had done an impeccable job leading one of the most active and effective U.S. Attorney’s offices in the country.
None had voiced opposition during Lynch’s confirmation hearing, but in the time since partisan pressure built among Republicans to defeat her nomination.
In a February 19 letter, fifty-one Republican senators urged Judiciary Committee members to oppose her nomination, saying they suspected that Lynch would likely continue the policies of Eric Holder, whom she’d succeed as Attorney General.