History was made on Thursday as the Senate confirmed Loretta E. Lynch as the country’s next Attorney General. The 56-43 vote ended a bitterly politicized five-month fight between the Democrats and Republicans that lasted longer than the last seven most recent nominations.
Leading Republicans had refused to bring Lynch’s nomination up for a vote, but the standoff ended when Democrats modified an unrelated bill about human trafficking. After the compromise, 10 Republicans crossed the aisle to vote with the Democrats, including Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
When she is sworn in on Monday, Lynch will become the nation’s first female African-American Attorney General. According to CNN, her father, Lorenzo A. Lynch, said, “The good guys won. That’s what has happened in this country all along. Even during slavery. Levi Coffin was a founder of the Underground Railroad. Even during slavery. A white man fought against slavery. So all over this land, good folks have stood in the right lane, in the right path.”
Lynch, 55, has a well-earned reputation as an extremely qualified, low-profile prosecutor who has a history of being a skilled consensus builder who is adept at handling tough cases. During her two tenures as the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Lynch was able to maintain a good relationship with law enforcement agencies.
President Barack Obama had nominated Lynch when the Republican Party gained control of the Senate following the mid-term elections in November. As quoted by ABC News, the President said, “As head of the Justice Department, she will oversee a vast portfolio of cases, including counter terrorism 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 shape the story of our country.”
Although Lynch shares many of the liberal views of her predecessor, her approach concerning the tactics used by police is expected to be markedly different. According to the New York Times, Lynch’s aides said that her top priorities will be to improve police morale and to find a common ground between law enforcement and the minority communities that they serve.
She is expected to face immediate questions about the use of force by police, particularly as it concerns the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, which investigates every suspicious police shooting across the country.
In his comments, President Obama said, “Loretta’s confirmation ensures that we are better positioned to keep our communities safe, keep our nation secure, and ensure that every American experiences justice under the law.”
He also added that, “America will be better off for it.”