Loretta Lynch was confirmed Thursday as attorney general, the first black woman in American history to hold the country’s top law enforcement post.
The Senate approved Lynch, a federal prosecutor from New York, on a 56-43 vote after an unusually lengthy confirmation delay. President Barack Obama nominated Lynch as the successor to Eric Holder in November.
Lynch’s path to becoming the first African American woman to serve as attorney general was fraught with partisan bickering — fighting that continued on Thursday. Obama said the Justice Department would benefit from Lynch’s experience as a “a tough, independent, and well-respected prosecutor.”
“Loretta has spent her life fighting for the fair and equal justice that is the foundation of our democracy,” the president said in a statement on Thursday. “As head of the Justice Department, she will oversee a vast portfolio of cases, including counterterrorism and voting rights; public corruption and white-collar crime; judicial recommendations and policy reviews – all of which matter to the lives of every American, and shape the story of our country.”
Holder said he was pleased the Senate recognized “her clear qualifications.”
“I have known and worked closely with Loretta for many years, and I know that she will continue the vital work that this Administration has set in motion and leave her own innovative mark on the Department in which we have both been privileged to serve,” Holder said in a statement. “I am confident that Loretta will be an outstanding Attorney General, a dedicated guardian of the Constitution, and a devoted champion of all those whom the law protects and empowers.”