Opinion: What does it take for Senate Republicans to decide not to confirm Loretta Lynch, who is President Obama’s nominee to be attorney general? At what point is the lawlessness simply too much?
It is entirely within the power of the newly elected Republican majority in the Senate not to confirm Ms. Lynch. The only question is whether the GOP majority will exercise its constitutional authority to do so.
Personally, I wanted to support Ms. Lynch’s nomination. Six years of Eric Holder has done enormous damage, and Ms. Lynch’s service as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York has earned her a reputation as a relatively no-nonsense prosecutor. However, the answers she gave at her confirmation hearing are, in my view, disqualifying for serving as our nation’s chief law enforcement officer.
When asked how she would be different from Eric Holder—the most partisan attorney general our nation has ever seen—she could identify no meaningful way she would differ from him.
When asked whether she would defend President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty—which Obama himself acknowledged, 22 times, he had no authority to undertake and which a federal court has just enjoined as unlawful—she responded affirmatively, saying that she thought the Administration’s contrived legal justification was “reasonable.”
When asked the limits of “prosecutorial discretion,” the dubious theory President Obama has put forth to justify his executive amnesty, she could give none.
When asked if it would allow the President to extend amnesty to all 12 million people here illegally … she refused to answer.
When asked who has “more right to a job,” a U.S. citizen or a person here illegally, she responded, “I believe that the right and the obligation to work is one that’s shared by everyone in this country, regardless of how they came here.”
When asked if a subsequent President could use “prosecutorial discretion” to order the Treasury Secretary to no longer collect any income taxes above 25 percent … she refused to answer.
When asked if a subsequent President could use the same theory to exempt the State of Texas from every single federal labor law and environmental law … she refused to answer.
These are extreme, radical positions.
When asked if she agreed with the Holder Justice Department’s view (rejected unanimously by the U.S. Supreme Court) that the government could place a GPS sensor on the car of every American, without probable cause … she refused to answer.
When asked if she agreed with the Holder Justice Department’s view (also rejected unanimously by the U.S. Supreme Court) that the First Amendment gives no protection whatsoever to a church’s or synagogue’s choice of pastor or rabbi … she refused to answer.
When asked at her hearing if she believed the federal government could employ a drone to kill a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, if that citizen posed no imminent threat … she refused to answer.
And when asked if she would be willing to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS’s targeting of citizens for their political views—a prosecutor who was not a major Obama donor, as is the current lawyer leading the “investigation” … she refused to answer.
This is breathtaking—and brazen.
No senator who takes his or her oath of office seriously should vote to confirm such a nominee.
And Senate Republicans have all the authority we need to reject this nomination.
Two paths are available: First, if every Senate Republican on the Judiciary Committee votes no, the nominee will be rejected. Alas, to date, two Republicans have said publicly they will vote yes, and a third has strongly suggested he will as well.
Second, regardless of where the committee votes might be, Republican Leadership could simply decide not to report the nomination to the floor. If Leadership did so, the nomination would be rejected—and there is no procedural mechanism for Democrats to change the outcome.
Unfortunately, Leadership is loath to do so. It would somehow be “unfriendly” to do so. Nonsense. We should, of course, always be respectful. But there is a reason the Senate is given constitutional authority over “advice and consent.” We were not elected to be a “fraternal order,” as Reagan famously put it. Rather, we were elected to defend the Constitution.
Some argue that rejecting Ms. Lynch’s nomination would just keep Eric Holder in office. It is true that Holder has abused the office, turning a Department of Justice that had built a long bipartisan tradition of impartially enforcing the law into effectively a partisan arm of the Democratic Party. And he has repeatedly ignored the law and the Constitution, so much so that he is the only attorney general in history to be held in contempt of Congress.
But Holder’s lawless behavior occurred after he was confirmed. It is altogether different for the Senate to confirm a nominee who tells us ahead of time she will ignore the law. If the Senate does so, we are complicit in the lawlessness.
Senate Republicans have the power to stop this nomination. And we have a choice. We can honor our oaths to the Constitution—we can defend liberty and the rule of law—or we can confirm an attorney general who has candidly admitted she will impose no limits on the President whatsoever.
About the author: Ted Cruz is a U.S. senator from Texas. This article first appeared in Politico here.