Attorney General Loretta Lynch testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 9, 2016, before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Lynch discussed Apple’s stance on encryption, immigration hearings for children, and other topics. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Attorney General Loretta Lynch has asked that her name be withdrawn from consideration for the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia on Feb. 13.
Senate Republicans have vowed to block any nominee advanced by President Obama. As such, Lynch said a contentious confirmation battle would only detract from her job as the nation’s top justice official.
“As the conversation around the Supreme Court vacancy progressed, the Attorney General determined that the limitations inherent in the nomination process would curtail her effectiveness in her current role,” Melanie Newman, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said in a statement to media on March 8. “Given the urgent issues before the Department of Justice, she asked not to be considered for the position.”
Observers and experts had floated Lynch’s name as a likely successor to the nation’s highest court. And, if nominated, she would have been the first Black woman to receive that honor.
“The fact that Lynch was vetted so recently for attorney general also makes it practical for the president to nominate her in relatively short order,” wrote Tom Goldstein in his influential SCOTUSblog on Feb. 14.
Goldstein also saw Lynch as a “strong possibility” because of her race—he believed Obama would nominate an African-American nominee as a counterpoint to the conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, and to bolster his legacy of advancing Black political success.
“I think the administration would relish the prospect of Republicans either refusing to give Lynch a vote or seeming to treat her unfairly in the confirmation process. Either eventuality would motivate both Black and women voters” Goldstein wrote.
In remarks at the Women in the World Summit in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Lynch said it was an honor to be considered as Scalia’s replacement but she was happy in her current role.
Newman added in the statement, “While she is deeply grateful for the support and good wishes of all those who suggested her as a potential nominee, she is honored to serve as Attorney General, and she is fully committed to carrying out the work of the Department of Justice for the remainder of her term.”
Lynch succeeded the nation’s first African-American attorney general, Eric Holder and was sworn into her current office on April 17, 2015, becoming first African-American woman and the second woman to be confirmed for the position.