Loretta Lynch, the North Carolina native who made her way from Durham to Brooklyn and became the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, will face a trial by fire of her own tomorrow as confirmation hearings open for her nomination to be the nation’s next Attorney General.
If confirmed, Lynch — the daughter of a black Baptist minister and a school librarian who once picked cotton in the eastern part of this state — will become the first African-American woman to serve in that role.
“She will face an exceptional amount of her time responding to Congress,” Robert Raben, a consultant and the former assistant attorney general for legislative affairs in the Clinton administration, said in this Washington Post profile. “And a big chunk of the time is partisan and political shenanigans. With the complete control of Congress by another party, there’s maximum possibility that there’s going to be an onslaught of oversight to tie up the leadership of the department and humiliate the president.”
Certainly by all accounts in the Post piece, Lynch will weather the hearings in typical “unflappable” style.
Her former Harvard Law School classmate and colleague at New York’s Cahill Gordon & Reindel, Annette Gordon-Reed, called her “a Southern steel-magnolia-type person — very, very strong. But she’s also one of the funniest people I know.”
Lynch lived through vestiges of the Jim Crow South through her parents’ experiences and also had a share of her own. Per the Post:
Loretta E. Lynch grew up in a different time. But she, too, experienced remnants of the old South. She did so well on a standardized test in her mostly white elementary school that she was asked to take it again. (She scored even higher the second time.)
And in 1977, although she was the top student in her senior class, the administrators of Durham High School asked her to share the honor with two others, including a white student, to avoid the controversy they feared would follow having the first lone black valedictorian.
Lynch will testify on Wednesday, followed by nine witnesses invited by the Judiciary Committee to appear on Thursday.
Those witnesses include a journalist and two professors — Republican invitees — who oppose most of what the Justice Department has done under the Obama administration, as well as a former U.S. Attorney who supports Lynch, a former FBI agent who worked closely with her, and a professor who supports Obama immigration policies.
Legal Times has more on the witnesses here.