PRESIDENT OBAMA’S nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch, is a career federal prosecutor whose education, temperament and accomplishments as a public servant amply qualify her for Senate confirmation. Indeed, her selection reflects credit on Mr. Obama not only because of what she is and what she has done but also because of what she is not: a presidential friend or party insider, in the mode of many a pick for this position. If confirmed, Ms. Lynch would become the first African American woman to lead the Justice Department, and there would be no room to doubt that she got there entirely on merit. Indeed, that is the view of a majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where three Republicans joined with nine Democrats to send her nomination to the full Senate with a favorable recommendation.
That was Feb. 26 — 12 days ago, and more than four months since President Obama made it known that he wanted her to replace the incumbent, Eric Holder. Senate Democrats accuse the Republican majority, and its leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.), of subjecting Ms. Lynch to the longest delay for a prospective attorney general in three decades. This charge is less than entirely fair. Democrats consented to postpone consideration of the Lynch nomination through the lame-duck session at the end of last year. Partly, they did so because they preferred to use the time remaining in last year’s session for confirming federal judges. Moreover, there are many fewer Senate business days than calendar days, and only a handful of the former have passed since the committee vote in favor of Ms. Lynch.
It is, however, fair to question the degree to which Senate Republicans have verbally pummeled Ms. Lynch as a means of protesting Mr. Obama’s executive action favoring work permits for millions of undocumented immigrants.
We have our own issues with that particular use of presidential power, but it’s a misuse of the confirmation process to vote against Ms. Lynch — as eight GOP members of the judiciary committee did — because she told the committee she believes Mr. Obama’s action was constitutional. Remember, not only is Ms. Lynch abundantly qualified, but every president is normally entitled to the Cabinet of his choice. Yet since the committee vote, more Republicans have promised to vote against her in protest of the president’s immigration policies. So many have done so, in fact, that it’s possible she could win confirmation with as few as 50 votes: all 46 Democrats, plus a handful of Republicans, necessitating a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Biden.
Ms. Lynch deserves both a prompt vote and an overwhelmingly favorable one; the latter is even more important than the former, and the fact that she might not get it is, accordingly, the much more damning comment on the Republican Senate.