By Al Sharpton More than 150 days ago, President Barack Obama nominated Loretta Lynch as the next U.S. attorney general following Eric Holder’s decision to step down. More than 48 days ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to confirm Lynch as the top law enforcement official in the nation. And yet, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., still refuses to schedule a vote. At a time when key issues important to the American people like protection of voting rights, law enforcement accountability/reform and oversight of numerous areas demand leadership, McConnell and many in his party are stalling.
A graduate of Harvard Law School, Lynch has spent a significant amount of her tremendous career going after corrupt politicians, mobsters and criminals that other less-capable individuals might be too afraid or hesitant to investigate and pursue. Time and time again, she has proven to possess the fortitude, insight, intelligence, courage and determination we as a nation need in a top law enforcement official. Instead of providing a speedy confirmation process for such a qualified and esteemed nominee, those wishing to hold us back are once again doing what they do best – obstructing. At a time when the country continues to face renewed security threats, it is unconscionable that an attorney general confirmation is withheld for partisan political reasons. Lynch deserves better; Americans deserve better; and young African-American women deserve to see someone who looks like them break barriers and receive the same respect and due process as previous nominees. Our message is clear and simple: This is not a time for politics.
Earlier this week, National Action Network announced an initiative to stage a hunger strike until Lynch is confirmed. The campaign, titled, “Confirm Loretta Lynch Fast”, involves women leaders and members from both within NAN, as well as activists from other civil rights organizations. These courageous and committed leaders will alternate days abstaining from food until the Senate does its job and stops holding the next attorney general hostage. Advocates and those on the side of justice have often utilized the power of hunger strikes to call attention to grievances and issues that must be resolved. In the great tradition of nonviolent champions like Gandhi, we will utilize the power of self-discipline and sacrifice to inform others of the seriousness and consequences of this delay.
As we continue with the “Confirm Loretta Lynch Fast” effort, we urge everyone who wants to see our great nation progressing forward to join us, write letters to their representatives, participate in the social media campaign, send messages to leaders on Twitter, Facebook, etc. President Obama nominated Lynch on Nov. 8, and the fact that she is being used as some sort of a pawn in a game of cynical, ugly politics is an insult to every single American. Currently a U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Lynch cleared the committee in February by a vote of 12-8. It is a travesty that we are now just waiting on a Senate floor vote.
The question we all want answered is why is it impossible to have a simple constitutional vote on the floor of the Senate? Why is Lynch held up longer than the previous seven members nominated for attorney general combined? Why is it that the first black female nominee is being treated in such a disrespectful and inexcusable manner? The answer isn’t surprising; it’s pure partisan politics. The ramifications however are destructive, offensive and dangerous for all of us.
Justice delayed is justice denied, and we call for a vote immediately. This is no time for self-aggrandizing politics, and we will raise our voices until it stops.
We need a strong leader at the helm, and Loretta Lynch is undoubtedly that woman.
Rev. Al Sharpton is the founder and president of the National Action Network.
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