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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Swiftly Confirm Loretta Lynch as Attorney General

Advocacy Letter - 01/26/15

Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Recipient: Committee on the Judiciary


View the PDF of this letter here.

The Honorable Charles Grassley, Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Patrick Leahy, Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Leahy:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States, we write to urge your support for the historic nomination of Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General of the United States. The Leadership Conference has been a leader on all federal civil rights legislation since the 1950s.  As a strong, fair and independent prosecutor who has served two presidential administrations with distinction, we are confident Ms. Lynch would bring a steady hand to guide the Department of Justice (the Department or DOJ), an agency that is vitally important to the civil and human community because it serves as our nation’s central agency to enforce federal laws. Importantly, she would make history as the first African-American woman to serve as Attorney General.

The Attorney General must safeguard the rule of law, protect the public, and ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans. Ms. Lynch is highly qualified for the position. Her commitment to public service is unwavering, as is her dedication to our justice system. Ms. Lynch is a strong, independent prosecutor who has twice headed one of the most important U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the country and who has decades of experience as a lawyer and leader.  She knows the Department, has a distinguished record of success prosecuting major cases, and is an experienced manager.

Ms. Lynch has served in both the public and private sectors with distinction. She was a partner for eight years at a prestigious international law firm, and has twice served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY), the position she currently holds.  Her commitment to public service is notable. In addition to leading the EDNY, Ms. Lynch is Chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee.  She also sits on the Department of Justice’s Diversity Council. In addition to her work at the Department, Ms. Lynch was appointed Counsel to the Prosecutor for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Tanzania, served as a board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and was a member of the New York State Commission on Public Integrity.

Ms. Lynch recognizes that a fair and equal justice system is essential to who we are as a nation and has fought tirelessly to protect the civil and human rights of all persons under the law. She has made clear time and again that the United States must ensure equal opportunity for all and protect its people from violence committed on account of a victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. For example, Ms. Lynch and the EDNY have led the fight against human trafficking, breaking up sex trafficking rings, bringing to justice numerous sex traffickers, and reuniting families torn apart by the sex trade.

In 2012, the EDNY prosecuted racially and religiously motivated fire-bombings of a mosque, a business, and a Hindu temple in Queens. As Ms. Lynch stated when announcing the charges, “[h]ate crimes offend the very principles upon which this country was founded, and those who engage in such conduct will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This defendant allegedly sought to fan the flames of ethnic and religious tension. Those flames will always be extinguished by the rule of law.” She also worked with DOJ’s Civil Rights Division to secure an agreement with the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) in the wake of a spate of violent hate crimes against Latinos on Long Island and the failure of the SCPD to investigate such complaints. At the time, Ms. Lynch stated, “All residents of Suffolk County deserve full and unbiased police protection, regardless of national origin, race, or citizenship status. When people feel they cannot turn to the police for protection, they have lost one of our most basic rights – the right to feel safe in one’s community.”

Ms. Lynch prosecuted one of the most notorious cases of police brutality in New York City history, the case of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. While Ms. Lynch has held accountable police who have broken the law and abused their powers, she has made clear that the vast majority of officers are dedicated public servants of the highest integrity who deserve our highest praise, and she is proud of her relationship with law enforcement.

In 2014, the EDNY, in conjunction with DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, announced an agreement with New York City to settle a lawsuit alleging that the use of two written tests by the New York Fire Department (FDNY) violated civil rights laws by disproportionately screening out African-American and Hispanic applicants through criteria that did not identify the best qualified candidates. As the Court found, these tests bore little relationship to the job of a firefighter and excluded hundreds of qualified minority applicants from the opportunity to serve as firefighters. Under the agreement, the City not only compensated victims of discrimination, but created an entry-level hiring process that more accurately identifies the firefighter candidates best qualified for the job. As Ms. Lynch said at the time of the settlement, “We look forward to a new era in which African-American and Hispanic firefighters are full and equal participants in FDNY’s proud tradition of protecting and serving the people of the city of New York.”

Support for Ms. Lynch’s nomination is bipartisan, broad, and far reaching.  Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, New York Police Commissioner William Bratton, Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, and countless others support Ms. Lynch’s nomination. In addition, the Senate unanimously confirmed her on two occasions to be the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, a district that handles a wide variety of some of the most complex, diverse, and important cases in our country.

We strongly urge you to vote in favor of this important nomination. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Nancy Zirkin at zirkin@civilrights.org or 202-466-3311 or Lisa Bornstein, Legal Director and Senior Legal Advisor at Bornstein@civilrights.org or 202-263-2856. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Wade Henderson
President & CEO

Nancy Zirkin
Executive Vice President

Our Members