Senate votes to confirm Loretta Lynch as next attorney general

Loretta Lynch. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

The Senate voted 56 to 43 on Thursday to confirm Loretta Lynch as the next Attorney General of the United States.

Lynch, a federal prosecutor from New York, will be sworn in on Monday, The Washington Post reports. She is the first African American woman to lead the Department of Justice.

"As head of the Justice Department, she will oversee a vast portfolio of cases, including counterterrorism and voting rights; public corruption and white-collar crime; judicial recommendations and policy reviews – all of which matter to the lives of every American, and shape the story of our country," President Barack Obama said in a statement after the long-delayed vote. "She will bring to bear her experience as a tough, independent, and well-respected prosecutor on key, bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform."

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota, in June 2014. Photo from KXMB / Twitter

Lynch will have some big shoes to fill. She succeeds Eric Holder, whose six-year run as attorney general marked a dramatic shift in the federal-Indian relationship that started with the settling of the $3.4 billion Cobell trust fund lawsuit in December 2009 and continued with dozens of tribal trust fund settlements whose dollar value has topped $2.6 billion.

Holder and his U.S. Attorneys championed the recognition of tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians in the Violence Against Women Act of 2013. The historic provision became effective nationwide in April after a successful pilot run on three reservations.

DOJ took a more active stand in Indian Child Welfare Act cases and Indian voting rights cases under Holder. The administration also advanced the Tribal Law and Order Act in 2010 to improve justice systems in Indian Country.

More recently, DOJ has started to focus on Native youth issues at the direction of President Obama. The Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence delivered its report last November and urged support for tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit crimes against Native children.

Get the Story:
Loretta Lynch confirmed by Senate as attorney general (The Washington Post 4/24)
As Attorney General, Loretta Lynch Plans Striking New Tone for the Justice Dept. (The New York Times 4/24)

Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on American Indian/Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence Report:
Ending Violence so Children Can Thrive (November 2014)

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