Obama’s Pick to Replace Holder Signals New Strategy

Obama’s Pick to Replace Holder Signals New Strategy November 10, 2014

President Obama has nominated Loretta Lynch, a federal prosecutor in New York, to replace Eric Holder as head of the DOJ. Lynch should be a relatively uncontroversial pick, which likely signals a shift in strategy for the White House in dealing with the Republican majority in the Senate. Ian Millhiser explains her appeal as a nominee:

Much of Lynch’s appeal to Obama may stem from the fact that she is removed from many of the political battles that would render a nominee who has often been at odds with Republicans unconfirmable in a GOP-controlled Senate. Lynch has a distinguished, but relatively apolitical, career as a prosecutor. After earning both her undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard, Lynch was an associate at a large law firm before joining the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York in 1990. There, she rose to hold several senior career roles, including Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney from 1998 to 1999, when she was confirmed to lead the office at U.S. Attorney during the Clinton Administration. Shortly after President Clinton left office, Lynch became a partner at another large law firm until President Obama reappointed her as U.S. Attorney in 2009.

The fact that she would be the first black woman to serve as attorney general also helps in this regard. Even the Republicans understand the symbolic power of being the first of a group to hold a position. Millhiser does note that Lynch has a pretty strong track record of prosecuting police brutality. She was the prosecutor who went after the NYPD officers who tortured Haitian immigrant Abner Louima (if you don’t know the details, do a Google search — but prepare to be horrified and disgusted). That’s good news to me.

I would expect more nominations like that, both for his cabinet and for the federal bench. If a spot opens up on the Supreme Court, I think Obama will nominate someone without a long track record of political activity or of taking controversial positions. I would also expect him to nominate a minority candidate, someone like Sri Srinivasan, who would be the first Indian-American on the court. He’s now a federal judge and he was confirmed by a 97-0 vote 18 months ago.

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