Tag: Attorney General

Loretta Lynch Wins Senate Panel Approval to be Attorney General

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be the 83rd U.S. attorney general and the first African American woman to hold the post.

The vote was 12 to 8, with 3 Republicans voting in favor of Lynch, who is the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn.

Lynch’s nomination now goes to the Senate floor, where she seems assured of eventual approval. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has so far been noncommittal about when he will schedule the vote. Democrats have complained that Lynch’s nomination has been pending for more than three months.

Republican opponents of Lynch have mostly not criticized her, but have used the nomination as a proxy for their opposition to President Obama’s executive action that would shield from deportation several million immigrants in the country illegally.

Lynch has testified that the legal underpinning for that directive was “reasonable.”

The committee debate also featured a spirited disagreement about the constitutional role of senators in confirming nominees, one that did not stricly follow party lines.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the committee chair and a Lynch supporter, excoriated fellow Republicans in the House who said in a letter that voting for Lynch was a vote in favor of “lawlessness” on the part of President Obama.

“That is ridiculous on its face,” Hatch said angrily.

“The case against her nomination, as far as I can tell, essentially ignores her professional career and focuses solely on about six hours that she spent before this committee on Jan. 28,” Hatch said.

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) joined Hatch in siding with all nine Democrats on the committee.

“To those who really believe this is a constitutional overreach of historic proportions, you have impeachment available to you,” Graham said, referring to the immigration controversy.

Noting the near-constant complaints among Republicans on the committee about the current attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., Graham said wryly that “Eric Holder’s ready to go, and I wish him well. He’s about to make a lot of money. Republicans are into that.”

Conservatives led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) say Lynch would not be independent of President Obama on immigration and other issues and would not depart from Holder’s policies.

Cruz, a potential candidate for president, said Lynch had refused to answer crucial questions in her confirmation hearing.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who has led opposition to Obama’s immigration plans, denounced Lynch.

“The Senate cannot confirm someone to this post who is going to support and advance a scheme that violates our Constitution and eviscerates congressional authority,” Sessions said. “Congress makes the laws, not the president—as every schoolchild knows.”

Lynch has twice been U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, the top federal prosecutor in a district that includes all of Long Island and most of New York City outside of Manhattan and the Bronx.

She has been a federal prosecutor much of her career and earned the endorsement of a number of top law enforcement officials and organizations. She has extensive experience in terrorism and public corruption cases.

Lynch also has international experience, volunteering over several years with the International Criminal Tribune for Rwanda training lawyers and conducting an investigation.

article by Timothy Phelps via latimes.com

Attorney General Eric Holder Announces $124 Million Community Police Hiring Grant

Attorney General Eric Holder (pictured) announced on Monday a $124 million hiring grant in the latest of the Justice Department’s goal to improve the quality of police forces nationwide. Alongside Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Director Ron Davis, the pair enacted the grant in support of strengthening community policing.The grant will fund around 950 officers at 215 law enforcement agencies across the nation. The grant money is especially focused on three key areas: increasing community policing; bolstering crime reduction; and increasing public safety.

Both Holder and Davis issued statements regarding the grant, detailing the finer points and emphasizing its grand goal of supporting officers already in place in these communities as well as new hires by way of securing salary and crime reduction efforts.

From Attorney General Holder:

“These targeted investments will help to address acute needs – such as high rates of violent crime – funding 75 percent of the salary and benefits of every newly-hired or re-hired officer for three full years,” said Attorney General Holder. “The impact of this critical support will extend far beyond the creation and preservation of law enforcement jobs. It will strengthen relationships between these officers and the communities they serve, improve public safety and keep law enforcement officers on the beat.”

From Director Davis:

“The COPS Office is pleased to assist local law enforcement agencies throughout the country in addressing their most critical public safety issues,” said Director Davis. “Funding from this year’s program will allow many cities and counties to focus newly sworn personnel on issues related to violent crime, property crime and school safety.”

Referred to as the COPS Hiring Program, the grants will be awarded to state, local, and also tribal law enforcement agencies to hire or rehire from within the communities they serve. As explained by Holder, up to 75 percent of the entry-level salaries and basic benefits of full-time officers will be funded over a period of 36 months. The local agencies must match a minimum of 25 percent local funds with the federal maximum of funding capped at $125,000 per officer.

Grant award recipients for the 2014 portion of the program were selected for plans they submitted regarding strategies, exhibiting a financial need, and the rates of violent crimes in their communities.

COPS has provided funds to more than 125,000 officers serving 13,000 national agencies to date. It has also funded several organizations over the years with more than 700,000 people receiving training via its programs. Those individuals include government leaders, community organizers, and police officials among others. The COPS program is in its 20th year, providing more than $14 billion in hiring efforts among national agencies.

Learn more about the COPS Hiring Program here.

article by D.L. Chandler via newsone.com

Obama Administration: Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional In Prop. 8 Supreme Court Case

President Obama Speaks On Immigration Reform
President Barack Obama

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration urged the Supreme Court on Thursday to strike down California’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, staking out a legal theory that would forbid states from banning same-sex marriage if it were adopted by the court.

In an amicus brief in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the administration particularly said those states which allow civil unions but not same-sex marriages — Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode Island — were violating the 14th Amendment’s right to equal protection.

“The designation of marriage,” wrote Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr., “confers a special validation of the relationship between two individuals and conveys a message to society that domestic partnerships or civil unions cannot match.”

Continue reading “Obama Administration: Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional In Prop. 8 Supreme Court Case”

Investigation Finds No Evidence AG Eric Holder Knew Of “Fast and Furious” Gun-Running Sting

 

Attorney General Eric Holder

A long-awaited report on the U.S. government’s controversial gun-trafficking operation known as “Fast and Furious” released Wednesday found no evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder knew of the botched effort to trace the flow of guns to Mexico’s drug cartels prior to its public unraveling in January 2011.  The report by the Justice Department’sInspector General Michael Horowitz said there is “no evidence that … Holder was informed about Operation Fast and Furious, or learned about the tactics employed by ATF in the investigation” before Congress began pressing him for information about it in early 2011. Continue reading “Investigation Finds No Evidence AG Eric Holder Knew Of “Fast and Furious” Gun-Running Sting”

Obama Administration Drops Defense Of Anti-Gay Marriage Law

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a major policy reversal, the Obama administration said Wednesday that it will no longer defend the constitutionality of a federal law banning recognition of same-sex marriage.

Attorney General Eric Holder said President Barack Obama has concluded that the administration cannot defend the federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. He noted that the congressional debate during passage of the Defense of Marriage Act “contains numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate and family relationships – precisely the kind of stereotype-based thinking and animus the (Constitution’s)Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against.”

The Justice Department had defended the act in court until now.

“Much of the legal landscape has changed in the 15 years since Congress passed” the Defense of Marriage Act, Holder said in a statement. He noted that the Supreme Court has ruled that laws criminalizing homosexual conduct are unconstitutional and that Congress has repealed the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Holder wrote to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, that Obama has concluded the Defense of Marriage Act fails to meet a rigorous standard under which courts view with suspicion any laws targeting minority groups who have suffered a history of discrimination.

The attorney general said the Justice Department had defended the law in court until now because the government was able to advance reasonable arguments for the law based on a less strict standard.

At a December news conference, in response to a reporters’ question, Obama revealed that his position on gay marriage is “constantly evolving.” He has opposed such marriages and supported instead civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. The president said such civil unions are his baseline — at this point, as he put it.

“This is something that we’re going to continue to debate, and I personally am going to continue to wrestle with going forward,” he said.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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