News

226Tricky road conditions and thousands without power are the top stories of the day across North Carolina. But what else is trending?  Stories about the confirmation of  NC native Loretta Lynch, Senator Thom Tillis, funding for  the UNC system, net neutrality, and a pretty interesting poll about which political parties trust which media outlets by the folks at PPP.

Here are a few of today’s top tweets:

 

 

 

 

News

#ConfirmLoretta2

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.

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 9.30.33 AM

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.

 

Commentary

If you didn’t get your paper this morning because of the snow, be sure to click here to check out Asheville judge Perry Dror’s op-ed on the state Senate’s latest marriage discrimination proposal in Raleigh’s News & Observer.  As Dror explains:

I understand that some magistrates have felt deep concern about whether they should marry same-sex couples based on their sincere religious convictions. Some have even gone so far as to resign.

But any magistrate who resigns over “religious objections” to performing same-sex marriages is confusing a magistrate’s responsibility to conduct civil marriage ceremonies with a member of the clergy’s ability to sanctify a marriage.

Magistrates don’t sanctify marriages, and never have. We perform civil ceremonies, and we shouldn’t have the ability to deny that service to anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, race or religion.

The U.S. Constitution protects the free exercise of religion and ensures that no clergy member would ever be forced to sanctify a marriage with which they disagree. Under the law, no church can be compelled to perform a marriage that falls outside their faith tradition.

But government is different. Public officials should treat everyone equally under the law. Our oath demands it.

News

Scroll down for an update of what happened Thursday. Spoiler alert: not much. Vote expected Friday.

Despite the snow storm that socked the state overnight, the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors is still scheduled to hold their meetings today and tomorrow in Charlotte.

One of the items slated for discussion at a sub-committee this morning is a recommendation to close three centers in the university system, including the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus.

A vote by the full UNC Board of Governors  will be on Friday, at the meeting being held at UNC-Charlotte’s campus.

The center is headed by Gene Nichol, a tenured law professor who has been open in his public criticism of how Republican policies have affected the poorest in the state. Many, including Nichol, have suggested the slated closure of the privately-funded center after years of complaints by conservative groups about Nichol.

Many have spoken out against the proposed closure, including the American Association of University Professors and a majority of law school faculty.

I will be at the meeting – and tweeting what happens. Follow me @SarahOvaska. Check back on the blog later today for an update on what happened.

Read More

News

Loretta LynchThe U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote this morning on the nomination of North Carolina native Loretta Lynch to serve as the nation’s next Attorney General.

If approved by the Committee, her nomination will move to the full Senate for a final vote, and if confirmed there Lynch will become the first African-American woman 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 there.

Colleagues and adversaries alike have called her a tough, fair, and independent lawyer and a leader of one of the most active and effective U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the nation.

New York Police Commissioner William Bratton called her “a remarkable prosecutor with a clear sense of justice without fear or favor.

Former NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly praised Lynch as a person who “upholds the highest ethical standard” and “would serve our country well” as the attorney general.

And former FBI director Louis Freeh wrote in a letter to Judiciary Committee leadership that he couldn’t think of “a more qualified nominee” and was “happy to give Ms. Lynch my highest personal and professional recommendation.”

Lynch also garnered the respect of several senators serving on the 20-member Committee, before whom she appeared for questioning in late January.

Eleven of those senators are Republican — including newly-minted North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis – and nine are Democrats.

With a supporting vote, Tillis could help make Lynch the first North Carolinian to lead the Justice Department.

But he has not publicly announced his support, and his office did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.

Others on both sides of the aisle have expressed their support, though.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein called Lynch’s performance at her confirmation hearing one of the best she’d witnessed.

“I see the combination of steel and velvet,” Feinstein said.

And Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch said he was impressed by Lynch and plans to support her.

Despite that support, an effort is apparently underway among Republicans in the Senate to derail her nomination, according to this report in the News & Observer.

Fifty-one Republican senators have signed a letter urging 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.

Holder made few friends among Republicans in the Senate, and during her confirmation hearing, Lynch found herself being pushed to distance herself from that.

“If confirmed as attorney general, I would be myself,” she said in response to questioning.

“I would be Loretta Lynch.”