Loretta Lynch attends the funeral for slain NYPD Officer Wenjian Liu in January of this year.
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  • Loretta Lynch attends the funeral for slain NYPD Officer Wenjian Liu in January of this year.

The New York Times yesterday published Carl Hulse and Matt Apuzzo's report on the Senate panel hearings for attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch. The piece mostly focused on Senate Republican distaste for Attorney General Eric Holder, and Lynch's attempts to distance herself from Holder. That distancing technique seems to be working, as the hearings sound positively cordial. I expected more rancor toward an Obama nominee from a Republican-run Senate, which makes this surprising news. But stuffed into the middle of the story is this paragraph, which probably helps explain why Republicans are not giving Lynch a very difficult time:

On matters of policy, Ms. Lynch called capital punishment “an effective penalty” and said she disagreed with Mr. Obama’s statements that marijuana was no more harmful than alcohol. She called the National Security Agency’s collection of American phone records “certainly constitutional, and effective.”

So she's pro-capital punishment, she said she does not support the legalization of pot, and she's pro-NSA data collection. Those are three serious issues to hand over to Republicans. Of course, the question with pot is whether Lynch will continue the Obama administration trend of sort of whistling and looking the other way as states experiment with legalization. There's no way to tell if that's the case from these hearings; we just have to trust that the Obama Administration wouldn't nominate someone who would diverge from their policy. If this is the case, then Lynch basically represents no shift from Holder's already pretty conservative views.

Republicans grilled Lynch on red-meat Republican issues like immigration and the IRS, but the Times says one major issue was largely untouched: "the tension between law enforcement and minority communities after the deaths of African-American men at the hands of police officers in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island." And on the one hand, I can absolutely understand why this issue wasn't discussed: Republicans don't give a shit about how minorities are treated. But on the other hand, recent events dictate that this issue is not going away. It's one of the most pressing issues the attorney general will have to face. This should be one of the first questions you'd ask of any attorney general nominee, and the Senate committee apparently couldn't be bothered to give a shit about it.