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President Obama–Embarrassed about Lynch’s Delay: It’s Effect on Women

On April 17th, President Barack Obama said, “Call Loretta Lynch for a vote. Get her confirmed. Put her in place. Let her do her job. This is embarrassing, a process like this”. What could the President be talking about? Who is Loretta Lynch? Why does Lynch need a vote?

President Obama’s comment is a result of the President’s attorney general position being vacant for 159 days now. The previous attorney general, Eric Holder, stepped down from his position, despite the fact that he was one of the longest-serving members of Obama’s cabinet and that he had confirmed tenure, due to racial tensions. During his term, Holder, who was the first African American attorney general, fought for gay marriage rights, the elderly, racial minority’s rights, and fought to reduce sentences for nonviolent drug crimes. He stepped down as soon as a new attorney was confirmed. The newly confirmed attorney general is Loretta Lynch.

Loretta Lynch, who would be the first African American female attorney general, has been waiting to fill that position for 159 days now. Lynch was confirmed to be the attorney general, but her position has been vacant. The President states, “We have this crazy situation where a woman who everybody agrees is qualified, has gone after terrorists, who has worked with police officers to get gangs off the streets, who is trusted by the civil rights community and by police unions, has now been sitting here longer than the previous seven general nominnees combined”. What he says is true. President George W. Bush’s attorney general, John Ashcroft, was confirmed into his position within 42 days. President Bill Clinton’s attorney general, Janet Reno, was confirmed into her position within a whopping 29 days. So, what makes Lynch’s case special? The answer is an unrelated, on-going war between the Republicans and Democrats.

Both the Republican and Democratic parties agree that Lynch would be a great attorney general; however, the Republicans are not casting their votes yet. The Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (Republican), stated that the Senate will not reach a conclusion about Attorney General Lynch until a sex trafficking bill is settled, and by settled, he means passed. What makes this sex trafficking bill so difficult to pass?

The sex trafficking bill has an anti-abortion provision that is attached to the bill. This anti-abortion bipartisan bill is what the Democratic party will not sign. The anti-abortion portion of this bill “would allow fees to be collected from human traffickers to be funneled into a new public fund for victims, to which the Hyde Amendment would be applied” (Jennifer Bendery, the Huffington Post). The Hyde Amendment bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, unless the pregnancy is caused by incest or rape. Senator Patrick Leahy (Democrat) explains that the bill would “restrict the health choices of women and girls who have been sold into sex slavery”. In a nutshell, the Republicans refuse to sign Attorney General Lynch into position until the anti-abortion provision is passed.

I am not a Political Science major, so I do not know exactly what the process entails; I simply like keeping up with current events. However, regardless of my political knowledge, this issue raises two concerns for me, as a woman.

  1. Why is it taking so long for a woman to be put into office? If you check out my article on feminism, you can recall the statistics of women in the government. Only about 18% of Congress, senators, and party representatives are women. There always was, is, and will be a battle between Republicans and Democrats. There always will be cases that cause disagreement and problems between parties. However, why is it that now, when a female is trying to do her job, is there a delay in letting her into office? This quarrel about abortions has always been present, but the Republicans decide that this is the time and Lynch is the person to attack, to get their way. Women already lack presence in government and are not respected as much as men are. This attack on a female attorney general comes to me as an attack on women and their place in male-dominant fields. Women make up half of the bread-winning population, yet they are taken advantage of and are regarded as “weak”.
  2. The Republicans are threatening Attorney General’s Lynch’s position in return for an anti-abortion provision. Yes, bartering is a natural form of politics, however, both of these bartered causes are related to women. The fact that women who are put in the sex trafficking business and/or have an unwanted pregnancy are having federal rights taken away hurts women’s rights. Feminism is about women’s rights and their freedom to be individuals and make their own choices. As a feminist, I believe women should choose whether or not they have an abortion or not. In fact, most unwanted pregnancies are aborted within the first trimester.  The pictures that anti-abortion committees show, the ones of full fetuses in the stomache, make up less than 1% of abortion cases. Raising a baby is a job that requires a lot of time and energy. If a woman is incapable of providing this committment, she should be able choose whether or not to keep the embryo or not. This is not something to be bartered with, especially by a committe that is dominated by men. 

The Republican party bartering a female political position in exchange for less abortion and sex trafficking laws is sexist. No matter what the Democratic party chooses to allow, the Republican party is being sexist. They are playing with women’s roles in social, political, and economic contexts. Women need to participate in the the laws that govern their lives, and I think Presidnet Obama’s support of Attorney General Lynch’s position confirmation and denial of the sex trafficking bill makes for a great start. 

 

Jasmine is currently a senior at the University of California, San Diego. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a minor in Education Studies. Jasmine is the Co-Campus Correspondent for Her Campus UCSD, along with the amazing Taylor Zepeda. Jasmine spends most of her time volunteering at low socioeconomic status elementary schools across the San Diego county and grading papers for classes she is a Teacher's Assistant in. Novel wise, she is an avid fan of Edith Wharton and the Lord of the Rings series. She also loves comedic shows like New Girl and The Big Bang Theory, but also enjoys thrillers like Criminal Minds. One of Jasmine's favorite hobbies is trying foods of different cultures; she loves visiting cultural nights and community festivals. Above all, Jasmine worships Beyonce (a.k.a. Beysus, Queen Bee, Baeyonce, etc). Her future aspiration in life is to become the Secretary of Education and have the Hov and B over for dinners.
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