Brooklyn’s Democratic Congressional Representatives Yvette D. Clarke and Hakeem Jeffries have welcomed last week’s long-delayed United States Senate’s confirmation of Loretta Lynch as the next U.S. attorney general.
The Senate on Thursday confirmed Lynch, the first African American woman to hold the position, after almost six months of Republicans’ stonewalling.
Lynch became the 83rd Attorney General of the United States by a bipartisan majority in the Senate, with 10 Republicans joining two Independents and 44 Democrats in support of her confirmation.
“Yesterday, I had the utmost privilege and distinct honor of representing the people of the Ninth Congressional District of New York as the votes of the United States Senate were cast confirming the Hon. Loretta Lynch as the next attorney general of the United States,” a delighted Clarke, who had led the fight in New York to have Lynch confirmed, told Caribbean Life on Friday.
“I congratulate the Hon. Loretta Lynch on her historic confirmation as United States attorney general,” she added.
A proud native of North Carolina and currently a resident of Brooklyn, Lynch has “excelled in the profession of law, both in private practice and as a federal prosecutor renowned for her commitment to public service and her fairness in the application of the law,” said Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, whose mother, Una S.T. Clarke, was the first Caribbean-born woman to be elected to New York City Council.
Educated at Harvard College, where she was a charter member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and Harvard Law School, Lynch, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, has a “distinguished career as a federal prosecutor, securing convictions of the police officers who brutally attacked Abner Louima,” a Haitian immigrant, who was a Brooklyn resident at time of his assault, “as well as investigating corruption from the Town of Brookhaven to the Borough of Brooklyn,” said the younger Clarke.
“It has been a testament to her record of accomplishment and success that her nomination was supported by prominent officials from both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, as well as law professors, the community of faith, and social justice organizations,” she said.
“I wish Loretta Lynch and her family all the best, as she becomes the leader of the Department of Justice and the highest law enforcement official of our nation”, Clarke added.
She, however, said that she “remained concerned about the unwarranted and substantial delay in scheduling a vote on Lynch’s nomination as attorney general and the narrow margin of 56-43 by which she was confirmed.
“Both the delay in considering her nomination and the refusal of many Republicans to support such an obviously qualified nominee were unprecedented,” Clarke noted.
In hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Clarke said no one questioned Lynch’s impartiality, brilliance in law, or her talent for administration.
Several Republicans had even described Lynch as not only qualified but uniquely qualified to handle such issues as the threat of terrorism and corruption in government.
“Yet, nonetheless, [they] opposed her confirmation as attorney general in a spiteful attempt to undermine President Obama,” Clarke said.
“As Americans, our nation’s security, our civil rights, and our personal safety depend on the work of the attorney general and the Department of Justice,” she added. “To require Loretta Lynch to wait more than five months for a vote on her nomination was unconscionable.”
In addressing a gala “Women Celebrating Women” awards ceremony two weeks ago, at Tropical Paradise Ballroom on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn, Clarke had urged patrons to “call Mitch McConnell [Senate Majority Leader] and tell him that you want Loretta Lynch confirmed immediately.” Clarke gave the reception McConnell’s telephone and fax numbers.
New York City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, who represents the 35th Council District in Brooklyn, also spoke at the event, calling for a revolt across the nation against what was perceived to be Republicans’ stalled tactics.
“We need to have a national uprising for Loretta Lynch,” she said. “This [Republicans’ delay] is an attack on all of us and an attack on women of color.”
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Whip of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), breathed a sigh of relief with Lynch’s confirmation.
“After a shameful, partisan delay forced on the American people by Senate Republicans, Loretta Lynch has finally been confirmed as Attorney General,” the said.
“She is a consummate law enforcement professional with an unparalleled track record of keeping communities safe and protecting the civil rights of the vulnerable,” the congressman added. “Ms. Lynch will make a tremendous Attorney General. Brooklyn’s loss is America’s gain.”
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, who had served with Loretta in the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, also hailed Lynch’s confirmation.
“She’s an extraordinary prosecutor, possesses great integrity, and will be relentless in protecting the interests of the American people,” he said.
“I have no doubt that Loretta will serve our nation with honor and distinction,” Thompson added. “As the first-ever African American woman to serve as Attorney General, this is also a proud moment in our country’s history.”
Lynch will succeed Eric Holder, whose grandparents were from Barbados.
Holder described Lynch as “a gifted attorney, a consummate professional, and a dedicated public servant.
“I am pleased that the United States Senate has recognized her clear qualifications and the need for her confirmation as Attorney General of the United States,” said Holder in a U.S. Department of Justice statement.
“At every stage of her career, Loretta has earned the trust and high regard of allies and adversaries alike, both in Washington and throughout the country,” he added. “She is respected by law enforcement officers, civil rights leaders, and criminal justice officials of all political stripes.
“In every case and every circumstance, she has demonstrated an unfailing commitment to the rule of law and a steadfast fidelity to the pursuit to justice,” continued Holder, who have known and worked closely with Loretta for many years. “And I know that she will continue the vital work that this Administration has set in motion and leave her own innovative mark on the Department in which we have both been privileged to serve.
“I am confident that Loretta will be an outstanding Attorney General, a dedicated guardian of the Constitution, and a devoted champion of all those whom the law protects and empowers,” he said. “I congratulate her on her confirmation, and I look forward to all that the Department of Justice will do and achieve under her exemplary leadership.”