Activists: Vote now to confirm Lynch as US attorney general
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. Senate leaders should immediately call for a vote to confirm Loretta Lynch as attorney general, national civil rights activists urged Saturday.
The National Action Network, the NAACP, the National Urban League and other groups announced their campaign in New York, with the Rev. Al Sharpton saying they’ll go to the Washington offices of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell every day until he calls a vote.
“We’re not asking for favors; we’re not asking for backroom deals. Call the vote,” Sharpton said, prompting a chant of “Call the vote” from a crowd gathered for the National Action Network convention.
Lynch appears to have a narrow majority in her quest to succeed Attorney General Eric Holder and become the first black woman to hold the job. McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has said sex trafficking legislation must be cleared before the confirmation vote can be held.
Sharpton cited the recent fatal shooting in South Carolina — in which Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, was shot in the back by a white officer during a traffic stop — as an example of the urgent need to confirm Lynch’s nomination. He said it was “an insult to the American public” that McConnell would delay the proceedings in light of the shooting.
“A prosecutor can decide what to pursue and what not to pursue,” said Sharpton. “It is with a sense of urgency out of Charleston that we call on today Mitch McConnell the head of Senate to give America a fair prosecutor to look at these cases.”
Earlier this month, Republican U.S. Mark Kirk of Illinois signaled that he would vote to confirm Lynch, becoming the fifth GOP senator to support President Barack Obama’s choice. Their votes, combined with support from all the Democratic senators, would give Lynch the votes she requires without Vice President Joe Biden needing to break a tie.
“Loretta Lynch now has 51 publicly committed votes, which means she has all the votes to be confirmed,” said National Urban League President Marc Morial on Saturday. “So when we say call the vote, we know that the vote is going to be yes in favor of Loretta Lynch.”
Lynch, a Greensboro, North Carolina, native, has overseen bank fraud and public corruption cases in her current post as the U.S. attorney for New York’s Eastern District, which includes Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island.
During her first tenure in the Eastern District, during the Clinton administration, Lynch helped prosecute police officers who severely beat and sexually assaulted Haitian immigrant Abner Louima.
Holder, the first black attorney general, began his tenure when Obama was inaugurated. He announced in September that he planned to step aside.
Associated Press writer Jonathan Lemire in New York contributed to this report.