With the Senate poised to finally vote on Loretta Lynch, President Obama's widely praised pick to replace Eric Holder as attorney general of the United States, National Review Online is repeating tired and debunked excuses as it calls on Senate Republicans to “defeat” her nomination.
After waiting far longer than almost every other attorney general nominee in history, Senate Republicans will finally bring up Lynch's confirmation for a vote on April 23. Although there are no legitimate problems with the highly-qualified Lynch herself, her confirmation was still held up for months by the GOP as they blocked an up-or-down vote, even when it was apparent she could be confirmed. This obstruction -- fueled in part by right-wing media smears -- continued interminably despite the fact that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promised in November that Lynch would “receive fair consideration by the Senate.”
Senate Republicans, as well as right-wing media, have struggled mightily to find a substantive reason to oppose Lynch's nomination. After a few false starts, they finally settled on the fact that Lynch -- along with hundreds of legal experts as well as the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel -- believes that the president's executive actions on immigration are “reasonable,” and has publicly said so.
NRO in particular has been vocal -- and inaccurate -- in its disdain for Lynch, and its latest editorial is more of the same. In an April 22 post, the editors complained that Lynch was no different than the “wildly partisan” Holder, and that “Republicans should vote her down” because it “would be a forceful rebuke to the president.” The editorial went on to falsely claim that the president's immigration actions were illegal because they “offer positive benefits” to undocumented immigrants:
But there is little indication that Ms. Lynch would be much better -- and, at a minimum, the top law-enforcement officer should be committed to the law. Yet during her confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ms. Lynch endorsed the president's lawless November executive amnesty, and indicated that she had no concerns about the precedent it sets for future abuses of power by this or other presidents.
That the legal argument for the president's amnesty is weak is understating it. Unlike the previous amnesties he cites as precedent, the president's Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, or DAPA, is not responding to a particular crisis but is simply the enactment by fiat of his own political wishes. Furthermore, unlike those previous amnesties, the president's offers positive benefits (e.g., work permits) to millions of Americans in the country illegally. Even the administration admits that the order must be executed on a “case-by-case basis,” but the number of affected individuals -- somewhere around 5 million -- shows it is simply a new dispensation for an entire class of immigrants. And, of course, for years the president himself maintained that such a sweeping act would be outside his constitutional authority. Ms. Lynch apparently is bothered by none of this.
Immigration seems to be NRO's primary basis for opposing Lynch -- but it may want to come up with a better argument, rather than the falsehood that the president was so “lawless” that Lynch should have sent U.S. Marshals after Obama during her confirmation hearing. Not only are the president's executive actions not amnesty, they also aren't responsible for the positive benefits as the editorial claims -- those benefits are actually provided through a 1986 law that was signed by then-president Ronald Reagan. If “the legal argument for the president's amnesty is weak” in the NRO's eyes, it may be because they still don't understand it.
Ultimately, while NRO's editors may have invented a reason to oppose Lynch, the same cannot be said for editorial boards at newspapers in states with GOP senators, who have repeatedly urged their representatives to confirm her or have heavily criticized the shallow excuses that precluded an up-or-down vote. Ohio's Akron Beacon Journal noted “that Lynch sided with the president hardly came as a shock. She is his nominee. Presumably, the president thought he had enough opposition from Republicans.” Pennsylvania's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette added, “Ms. Lynch's position should not come as a surprise; a president is not going to appoint Cabinet members who don't share his views. The president is never going to put forth a nominee the Tea Party will like -- nor should he.” South Carolina's Charlotte Observer asked “So what's the problem? Critics say she's too much like Holder and the man who's trying to hire her, Barack Obama, on major issues such as voting rights and immigration. It's a ridiculous objection. What boss picks an employee to fight his or her goals?”
And Illinois' Journal Star, whose Republican Senator subsequently -- and commendably -- indicated he would join four of his GOP colleagues and end the obstruction, openly mocked the rationale NRO clutches to until the end:
Lynch was nominated by President Obama on Nov. 8. She sailed through her Jan. 28 confirmation hearing without so much as a misstep before a majority party that was eager to hear one, and on Feb. 26, the GOP-led Senate Judiciary Committee confirmed her appointment. Few doubt her credentials, as a current U.S. attorney in New York City, for the job, with the possible exception of those Republicans who think she shares too many of Obama's goals. Yes, what a novel concept: a nominee who supports the nominating president's positions. Wow, that's never happened before with, say, a Republican president, who always chooses someone who disagrees with him for the likes of Cabinet and federal court positions.