U.S. Senator Richard “Dick” Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, claims that the GOP wants to send Loretta Lynch to the back of the bus in a reference to civil rights icon Rosa Parks.
President Obama has nominated Lynch, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General.
“Loretta Lynch, the first African-American woman nominated to be attorney general, is asked to sit in the back of the bus when it comes to the Senate calendar,” Durbin declared this morning.
Politicians regardless of party are seldom known for their consistency, but Durbin foes have accused him of race-card hypocrisy in connection with his voting record on minority appointees put forth in past GOP administrations.
What Durbin is referring to is that so far, no up or down confirmation vote has occurred on the Lynch nomination. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has insisted that the Democrats stop blocking an anti-human trafficking bill before the AG nomination gets put to a vote in the chamber.
Both parties typically use parliamentary maneuvers to get bills passed in the Senate.
In addition, some Republicans are dissatisfied with Lynch’s support of Obama’s executive action on illegal immigration. In November 2014, the president unilaterally granted by executive action what amounts to amnesty for five million or more illegal immigrants. The latter action has been put on hold for now by a Texas federal judge. Under Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, Congress — not the Executive Branch — is vested with the power to enact or amend laws relating to immigration, however. Article II, Section 3, requires that [The President] “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed…”
In February 2005, Durbin voted against Alberto Gonzalez, Bush’s pick for Attorney General.
It also turns out that Durbin also voted against Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State and the judicial appointment of Janice Rogers Brown (after twice conducting a filibuster against Brown), when they were nominated by George W. Bush. He also helped block the Bush federal court nomination of attorney Miguel Estrada.
Responding to Durbin’s complaint, U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who is black, rejected any racial basis for the delay of the Lynch vote. “It is helpful to have a long memory and to remember that Durbin voted against Condoleezza Rice during the 40th anniversary of the March [on Selma]. So I think, in context, it’s just offensive that we have folks who are willing to race bait on such an important issue as human trafficking. Sometimes people use race as an issue that is hopefully going to motivate folks for their fight. But what it does, is it infuriates people.”
Durbin had issues with Rice over the Iraq War, which he opposed. In September 2005, he was one of 12 Democrats to vote against the Condi Rice Secretary of State nomination for that reason. Republicans have issues with Lynch over amnesty and perhaps on other policy matters.
Rice, a Republican, was the first African-American woman to serve as National Security Adviser and Secretary of State. She holds a Ph.D in political science and was the former provost of Stanford University where she now teaches. She is an accomplished pianist who also speaks Russian fluently. Rice is also one of the 13 inaugural members of the selection committee for the College Football Playoff system.
Slow-walking presidential nominees is not unheard of. For example, Ed Meese, President Reagan’s Attorney General nominee, waited 13 months for a confirmation vote. Loretta Lynch was tapped for the job in November 2014.
[Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images News]
Added: Sen. John McCain responds to Dick Durbin’s “back of the bus” allegation.