Attorney General Loretta Lynch has withdrawn from the race to fill the empty seat on the Supreme Court. Lynch was a candidate to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died recently at a ranch in Texas.
According to NBC News, Lynch asked for her name to be withdrawn from the pool of candidates. Administration officials were concerned that if Lynch had been nominated, Republicans could have asked for Justice Department documents on pending cases.
“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,” according to a Justice Department statement. “Given the urgent issues before the Department of Justice, she asked not to be considered for the position. 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 is the first Black woman to serve as attorney general. She replaced Eric Holder, who was the first Black person to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement officer. Lynch would have also been the first Black woman named to the Supreme Court.
Many Black commentators have demanded Obama appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court, but Lynch wasn’t a choice supported by everyone. Some Black people thought she was too soft on racial issues. Lynch’s Justice Department has been accused of not taking a tough enough stand against police violence. According to The Guardian, in an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd, Lynch said that the federal government shouldn’t require local police departments to report the number of fatal shootings.
However, other Black women are being considered for the Supreme Court. These include California Attorney General Kamala Harris and District Court Judge Brown Jackson. But, Harris, who is currently running for a California senatorial seat, said she has no interest in the position.
According to The New York Times, New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker has also been suggested as a potential candidate. Booker has a law degree from Yale. If appointed, Booker would be the third Black man nominated to the Supreme Court, behind Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas. Another Black candidate is Judge Robert Wilkins, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Wilkins, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, is a former public defender who was involved in a landmark class-action lawsuit filed by the ACLU involving racial profiling, according to The Seattle Times. Police were required to track data on traffic stops and do more to prevent racial profiling, according to the settlement.
Senate Republicans have made an unprecedented move to block any candidate nominated by the Obama administration. Republicans have said the next Supreme Court justice should be selected by the next president. By not filling the vacant position, Republicans could cause gridlock on the Supreme Court, which currently only has eight members, who usually vote along conservative and liberal lines.