On Thursday, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) announced that he would vote against the nomination of Loretta Lynch for attorney general based on her statement that she supported President Obama’s executive amnesty.
Unfortunately, when asked today whether she found the President’s actions to be ‘legal and constitutional,’ Ms. Lynch said that she did. I therefore am unable to support her nomination. My concerns are furthered by Ms. Lynch’s unambiguous declaration that ‘the right and the obligation to work is one that’s shared by everyone in this country regardless of how they came here.’
Unfortunately, many other Republicans did not share Sessions’ sentiments, tossing softball questions at Lynch throughout her confirmation hearing. Nonetheless, Lynch demurred from answering over and over again, abiding by the new rule that nominees must avoid giving honest answers lest they be held accountable for those answers.
For example, when queried about the legal difference between the case for same-sex marriage and the case for polygamy by Senator Lindsey Graham, Lynch simply refused to answer. “Senator,” she said, “I have not been involved in the argument or the analysis of the cases that have gone before the Supreme Court. So I’m not comfortable undertaking legal analysis without having had the ability to undertake a review of the relevant facts and the precedent there. So I certainly would not be able to provide you with that analysis at this point, but I look forward to continuing the discussions with you.” Right.
The dodges didn’t stop there. When asked about Obama’s executive amnesty, she deferred on every major legal question. She said that Obama’s amnesty was not in fact “permanent status,” even though Obama says he will not deport any of those who fall within his criteria. She added that she would not say if such illegal immigrants could sue for employment discrimination, adding that she looked forward to “discussing it with you and using, and relying upon your thoughts and experiences as we consider that point.” This was her fallback line, obviously: when in doubt, say she looks forward to discussing these hot legal issues over a cup of coffee with the president’s political opposition. How theoretically bipartisan!
To drive home the point that she would never oppose Obama’s executive amnesty, she dodged questions on the issue again and again, then said that everyone had the right to work in the United States – which ought to provide a problem, since there are approximately 6.8 billion people on the planet who do not live legally in the United States. “If someone is here,” she said, “regardless of status, I’d prefer they are participating in the workplace.” She had to be pressed repeatedly before admitting that citizenship is legally a privilege, not a right, finally conceding, “Citizenship is a privilege that has to be earned.” Sessions, bemused, stated, “I am a little surprised it took you that long.”
When asked about whether there were any limits at all to the executive’s authority under the rubric of prosecutorial discretion, she answered vaguely. Senator Mike Lee grilled her, explaining that giving permits to people to break the law did not amount to prosecutorial discretion. Lee likened Obama’s executive amnesty to law enforcement officers giving people permits to break the speed limit. Lynch remained unmoved. “Without knowing more about it, I’m not able to respond to the hypothetical,” she said, ignoring the fact that Lee’s case study was an analogy, not a hypothetical. “It certainly doesn’t sound like something that a law enforcement officer would be engaged in.”
To which Lee ought to have answered, “Tell that to your boss, since that’s precisely what he’s doing.” But that wouldn’t have moved Lynch, either.
Lynch did a good job playing the non-Eric Holder. When asked what distinguished her from Holder, she began spouting platitudes: “I would be myself. I would be Loretta Lynch. I pledge that I want to hear your concerns. I want to discuss those issues with you.” She said that not all voter ID laws would present concerns. She then tried to claim that unlike Holder, she would work closely with law enforcement rather than targeting law enforcement:
Throughout my career as a prosecutor, it has been my honor to work hand-in-hand with dedicated law enforcement officers and agents who risk their lives every day in the protection of the communities we all serve. Few things have pained me more than the recent reports of tension and division between law enforcement and the communities we serve.
Lynch also said she would continue to enforce marijuana laws, unlike Attorney General Holder, who has ignored enforcement of pot laws in states that have legalized the substance. She added that she would recommend either civilian or military courts for terrorists depending on the circumstances, but ripped into the Bush administration’s enhanced interrogation techniques: “Waterboarding is torture, Senator,” she told Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), “and thus illegal.” She did not say if she would prosecute members of the CIA who engaged in the practice.
The vast majority of the senators will vote for Lynch thanks to her inspirational personal story and the fact that any nominee of President Obama’s will undoubtedly back his executive amnesty. And perhaps Lynch will be a better attorney general than Holder. But then again, that isn’t saying much – and it is too bad that Republicans take their Constitutional oaths lightly enough to merely settle for a presidential nominee rather than holding her feet to the fire.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.