As members of the U.S. House of Representatives, we recognize that the power to consent on executive-branch nominees resides in the Senate. The Senate also has the power, indeed, the obligation to reject those nominees unfit for service. We believe that Loretta Lynch, who has been nominated by the president to serve as the nation’s next attorney general, falls in the unfit category.
As members of the House of Representatives, we are obligated to work with the attorney general, in order to fulfill our constitutional duties. We expect the nation’s top law-enforcement officer to be committed to the rule of law, not to a political party or an administration. We cannot be certain that Ms. Lynch has such a commitment.
Based on Ms. Lynch’s response to the questions posed to her at her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, we can only conclude that she has no intention of departing in any meaningful way from the policies of Attorney General Eric Holder, who has politicized the Department of Justice and done considerable harm to the administration of justice.
When asked to differentiate herself from Attorney General Holder, she chose not to do so. When asked directly and specifically about the Fast and Furious scandal, she made no legitimate attempt to answer the questions; instead she obfuscated and avoided. When asked if she would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service, she was dismissive, saying, “My understanding is that that matter has been considered and that the matter has been resolved to continue with the investigation as currently set forth.”
Moreover, her answers concerning the president’s executive order circumventing Congress by granting amnesty gives us great concern. Under the guise of exercising “prosecutorial discretion,” the president has erected a bureaucratic apparatus to accept millions of applications from illegal immigrants, grant them “deferred action” from deportation, and then issue them authorizations to work, all without Congress’s approval. When asked whether she agreed with the legal rationale concocted to justify the president’s actions, she said that she found it to be “reasonable,” the obvious implication being, of course, that she would continue to follow it. And indeed, not once during the hearing did Ms. Lynch ever disavow — or even question — the legality of the president’s actions.
As attorney general, Ms. Lynch would be required to swear an oath to the Constitution, not to the president and certainly not to uphold and defend a political agenda that undermines the Constitution and diminishes Congress. Although the president’s nominee cannot reasonably be expected to publicly oppose the president’s policies, the attorney general has an independent duty to uphold and defend the Constitution. That has not been the case during the tenure of Attorney General Eric Holder. Under Holder the Justice Department went before the Supreme Court 20 times defending the overreaching policies of the Obama administration and arguing for government authority that exceeded the powers granted by the Constitution, and each time the Obama administration was rejected by a unanimous vote of 9-0.
Ms. Lynch’s answers to questions during her confirmation hearing made it clear that, like Holder, she would do nothing to rein in the president’s usurpation of the powers of Congress or confront wanton disregard of the Constitution.
During the 2014 election, the voters sent a clear message against the abuses of power that have come to distinguish this administration. Recent polling indicates that the most unpopular position of the Obama administration is the president’s position on illegal amnesty. It would be a serious mistake to assume that the public’s disapproval of the abuse of executive power and government overreach could be ignored less than four months after the election.
As members of the House of Representatives, we are well aware that the responsibility to vet nominees for the office of attorney general rests with the Senate. We respect that and defer to the judgment of our colleagues in that chamber. But as elected representatives ourselves, we are acutely aware of the delicate balance of power that we are obligated by oath to abide by and are honor-bound to uphold and defend. We believe the confirmation of Ms. Lynch would be a vote in support of President Obama’s assault against the Constitution and the lawlessness of his administration. A vote for this nominee should fairly be considered a vote against the will of the American people. In that regard, we respectfully urge our colleagues in the Senate to reject the nomination of Ms. Lynch.
— Brian Babin (R., Texas), Jeff Duncan (R., S.C.), Trent Franks (R, Ariz.), Vicky Hartzler (R, Mo.), Jody Hice (R., Ga.), Barry Loudermilk (R., Ga.), Gary Palmer (R., Ala.), and John Ratcliffe (R., Texas) serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. This article originally ran in the local media of some of the above representatives’ districts.
Editor’s Note: This article has been amended since its initial publication.