Loretta Lynch Confirmed as Attorney General

Congress finally confirmed Loretta Lynch as Attorney General. Sally Yates, nominated by Obama in December for the Deputy AG slot was also confirmed. Lynch is expected to be sworn in on Monday.

Unfortunately, Lynch does not share Eric Holder's views on marijuana legalization.

She told the Senate that she did not support legalization and did not agree with Mr. Obama that marijuana may not be more dangerous than alcohol.

And she supports the Patriot Act, which once again is coming up for renewal.

It remains to be seen whether she withdraws any of Holder's positive changes to DOJ policy. [More...]

Here's a recap of some of the good things Eric Holder did:

Holder supported reducing drug sentences , which Congress passed.

Holder pushed Congress for the reduction of crack cocaine penalties. Congress reduced them from 100:1 to 18:1. (Yes, 1:1 is the correct ratio, and we didn't get there, but the reduction was a big improvement. And he didn't fight the Sentencing Commission making them retroactive for most defendants.)

Holder issued a directive to prosecutors not to file mandatory minimum charges in drug cases absent the presence of aggravating factors. His reasons:

[W]e now refine our charging policy regarding mandatory minimums for certain nonviolent, low-level drug offenders. We must ensure that our most severe mandatory minimum penalties are reserved for serious, high-level, or violent drug traffickers. In some cases, mandatory minimum and recidivist enhancement statutes have resulted in unduly harsh sentences and perceived or actual disparities that do not reflect our Principles of Federal Prosecution.

Long sentences for low-level, non-violent drug offenses do not promote public safety, deterrence, and rehabilitation. Moreover, rising prison costs have resulted in reduced spending on criminal justice initiatives, including spending on law enforcement agents, prosecutors, and prevention and intervention programs. These reductions in public safety spending require us to make our public safety expenditures smarter and more productive.

He directed prosecutors to consider recommending below-guideline sentences in some drug cases:

In cases where the properly calculated guideline range meets or exceeds the mandatory minimum, prosecutors should consider whether a below-guidelines sentence is sufficient to satisfy the purposes of sentencing as set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).

He took away one of DOJ's biggest hammers: The threat to add a recidivist charge if the defendant doesn't plead guilty. (For a defendant with a prior state or drug felony, that raises the 5 year mandatory minimum to ten, and the ten year mandatory minimum to twenty. Naturally, many defendants fold at that point, not willing to risk a mandatory 20 year sentence if they lose at trial. From his memo:

Whether a defendant is pleading guilty is not one of the factors enumerated in the charging policy. Prosecutors are encouraged to make the §851 determination at the time the case is charged, or as soon as possible thereafter. An §851 enhancement should not be used in plea negotiations for the sole or predominant purpose of inducing a defendant to plead guilty. This is consistent with long-standing Department policy that "©harges should not be filed simply to exert leverage to induce a plea....

If you want to see the kind of sentencing disparity the 851 hammer created, read this federal judge's opinion in United States v Young excoriating DOJ for using it as leverage in plea bargains.

Holder made the ultimate decision to let marijuana legalization proceed without challenge in Colorado and Washington. Holder favors removing marijuana from the list of Schedule I controlled substances. (Lynch does not.)

Holder worked hard to have the 9/11 defendants tried in federal court instead of Guantanamo. He didn't succeed, but he has succeeded at having other extradited terrorists tried and convicted in federal court, showing we don't need military commission trials at Gitmo.

I'm hardly someone to cheer any prosecutor, and I'm not cheering Holder. I'm just saying for a prosecutor, his views are better than most, and he got some positive changes implemented.

I don't know much about Lynch, but her views on crime and the war on drugs don't seem to be as progressive as her views on civil rights. I may already be missing Eric Holder. As Joni Mitchell sang, "Sometimes you don't know what you've got till it's gone."

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  • Display: Sort:
    It was truly (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 03:58:11 PM EST
    one of the great political moments of 2015 so far to see Ted Cruz acting like her confirmation would be the end of western civilization only to not bother to show up for the actual vote.

    Apparently there was money to be raised. (none / 0) (#7)
    by Reconstructionist on Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 04:02:16 PM EST
     Priorities, you know.  

    You appear to have neglected one possibility. (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jack E Lope on Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 04:34:32 PM EST
    If Sheldon Adelson decided that she would be a better AG than Holder, doesn't it seem likely that Ted Cruz would have to avoid voting against her?

    His vote would not have been decisive (none / 0) (#9)
    by Reconstructionist on Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 04:48:15 PM EST
      so I think hightailing back to Tejas for some money grubbing is the more likely reason. Donors like to feel important and what makes you feel more important than knowing your boy skipped a vote on a nominee he had excoriated  just to share a moment with you.

    Boy? (1.00 / 1) (#13)
    by NycNate on Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 10:33:50 PM EST
    Don't you think that is a bit much to call an adult man a boy?

    No (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Reconstructionist on Sat Apr 25, 2015 at 09:51:06 AM EST
      I think "your boy"  in this context is easily understood as connoting his subservience to the moneyed and cannot be viewed as suggesting he is something  less than a man.



    How can you possibly argue with the (5.00 / 4) (#16)
    by CaptHowdy on Sat Apr 25, 2015 at 09:58:20 AM EST
    "conscience of the site" who has "no problem" with the death penalty for pot but gets their panties in a twist by Ted Cruz being called a boy?

    His obeisance to money is noted. (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jack E Lope on Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 05:08:15 PM EST
    If she turns out to be, as one of Cruz's campaign people called her before she has taken office, "...another lawless AG"*, Cruz is going to need that campaign money.

    *Do this compare her to John Mitchell?


    I do love hearing (Or reading) (none / 0) (#11)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 05:22:23 PM EST
    the lonely whine of the winger when they don't get their way-

    No doubt some of the Republicans who voted for her believe that since the alternative to Lynch would be Holder remaining on board, they might as well replace the man who was held in contempt of Congress, hoping Lynch will turn out better. Or perhaps they took the advice of presumptive GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush who insisted "presidents have the right to pick their team in general."

    National Review's Andrew McCarthy demolishes both arguments. First he notes that Senators take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and that Lynch "has forthrightly told the Senate, under oath, that she will undermine the Constitution." Hence a vote in favor of Lynch "would plainly violate the senator's oath." As for Bush's assertion, McCathy notes that while it is a guideline, that guideline is neither a rule nor a Constitutional obligation. If it were, it "would effectively nullify the Constitution's advice-and-consent mandate that the Senate provide meaningful review of the president's nominees"--again violating a Senator's oath to uphold the Constitution.

    What McCathy failed to mention is even clearer: "bork" is now a verb in the American lexicon, courtesy of a successful Senate campaign led by Ted Kennedy leading to the rejection of President Reagan's Supreme Court nominee. Judge Robert H. Bork.

    I especially love the Bork thing.  That was like, what, 30 years ago?  The guys been dead for years and they are still pouting.  It's like a dis functional codependent relationship-

    'Well...well remember back in 1975 when you said my a$$ looked fat!?!?!"


    Much more at the link.   And I recommend googling "Holder legacy"


    Oh!oh! (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 05:26:05 PM EST
    this part-

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the only Senator who missed the vote, harshly criticized McConnell and Senate leaders for allowing the nomination vote to proceed. "The Republican majority, if it so chose, could defeat this nomination," he said. "I would note there are a few voters back home that are asking what exactly is the difference between a Democratic and Republican majority."

    Another triumph... (none / 0) (#1)
    by lentinel on Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 04:42:08 AM EST
    And she supports the Patriot Act, which once again is coming up for renewal.

    This, plus the other regressive measures she favors, is why I was less than exorcized about her confirmation being held up by the Senate.

    Thanks Obama for offering us yet another gem.

    It's ironic Holder got zero kudos here (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 12:00:50 PM EST
    while he was Obama's AG. Better late than never probably.

    I don't think that's true at all (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Peter G on Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 12:32:40 PM EST
    J gave Holder credit and praise for several of his policy changes and public statements. Not across the board by any means, but I seem to recall her giving credit where credit was due.

    Maybe so. But this reads like it is (none / 0) (#4)
    by oculus on Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 12:38:42 PM EST
    his wake.

    Not true (none / 0) (#5)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 03:06:32 PM EST
    I have praised him many times.  He has done many good things.
    Maybe they mean no one who matters.

    Agreed. Eric Holder (none / 0) (#17)
    by KeysDan on Sat Apr 25, 2015 at 12:10:54 PM EST
    did many good things--including the DOJ's refusal to defend DOMA and, after Windsor, his support for the implementation across the federal government for benefits and obligations; and recognition of same sex marriages for all federal tax purposes.

    And, of course, his role in making Louie Gohmert (R. TX) defend his asparagus.  Louie became so rattled during a hearing with Holder, that Louie took umbrage at the insinuation of Holder casting.... "aspersions on his asparagus."


    Yep (none / 0) (#18)
    by CaptHowdy on Sat Apr 25, 2015 at 12:13:51 PM EST
    try to imagine the last few months, Ferguson and beyond, with AG Ashcroft.  
    Can't claim that. I heard it on cable.  But it resonated.

    What he did for the gay community will not be forgotten.


    totally false Oculus (none / 0) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 10:40:37 PM EST
    I've praised him numerous times for many things. Do a search of Holder in the search box on the right.