Attorney General Loretta Lynch took the oath of office today, becoming the first African American woman to serve in the role. Lynch was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor using Frederick Douglass’ bible at the investiture ceremony, which gives her official rank United States Attorney General.
Lynch was nominated for the post in November by President Obama, and then faced an unprecedented five month delay as Senate Republicans refused to bring her nomination up for a vote. The amount of time she waited to be confirmed totals the wait time of the last seven attorney general nominees combined.
During the ceremony this morning, Lynch thanked her father and mother, both of whom were on the stage with Lynch, President Obama, and Justice Sotomayor, for overcoming Jim Crow segregation. Lynch referenced challenges facing the Department of Justice, particularly in regards to police violence against African Americans in the United States.
“As we confront the very nature of our citizens’ relationship with those of us entrusted to protect and to serve–these are indeed challenging issues and challenging times,” Lynch said.
President Obama remarked that as a child, Lynch would attend court proceedings with her father in Durham, North Carolina, and see first-hand the effects of segregation in the South. Obama called Lynch’s parents “her biggest cheerleaders.”
“Her intelligence, her judgment, and her grace under fire have earned the trust and admiration of those she works with and those she serves,” President Obama continued.
As of this month, there are 330 federal Obama judgeship nominees that have been confirmed. A few dozen are still pending, awaiting Senate action. Obama is also responsible for appointing the most diverse group of judges in history. As of January this year, 42 percent of Obama nominees for the federal bench are women, 19 percent are African-American, 11 percent are Hispanic, and 11 percent are openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual men or women. At the same time, 9 of the 13 federal Circuit courts of appeals are composed of a majority democratic appointment. Until recently, 10 out of 13 had a majority of appointments by Republican presidents.
Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 4/23/15; 12/18/14; Washington Post 6/17/15; C-SPAN 6/17/15;