WASHINGTON, March 8, 2016 – U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch asked to be removed from consideration to be the next Supreme Court Justice. DOJ spokeswoman Melanie Newman made the announcement in a statement early Tuesday. “The attorney general determined that the limitations inherent in the nomination process would curtail her effectiveness in her current role.”
Lynch previously had a tumultuous Senate confirmation when she was nominated as attorney general, Eric Holder’s replacement.
Lynch has been named on various lists of potential Supreme Court nominees for President Barack Obama. “While [Lynch] is deeply grateful for the support and good wishes of all those who suggested her as a potential nominee, she is honored to serve as attorney general, and she is fully committed to carrying out the work of the Department of Justice for the remainder of her term.”
The announcement comes as Lynch is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Lawmakers at the hearing are expected to square off over Senate Republicans’ pledge not to give any nominee for Scalia’s spot a hearing or vote before the November election. Making clear that Lynch isn’t in the running for that job could allow her to avoid being awkwardly caught up in such exchanges.
The announcement on Tuesday winnows the field of possible contenders to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whose unexpected death last month sent a shockwave across Washington and threatened to dramatically alter the balance on the highest court in the nation. The vacancy leaves the court in a deadlock, with four justices each on the court’s liberal and conservative wings.
Last month, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval withdrew his name from consideration after reports surfaced that he was being vetted as a possible selection. The choice would have put Senate lawmakers in both parties in a politically tricky spot by forcing Republicans to ignore the nomination of a member of their own party. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said that the nominee would “bear some resemblance to a piñata.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest similarly said Republicans “are digging in even further on an unreasonable position of not giving that person any sort of fair hearing and vowing to tear that person down.”
Other names that have been floated as possible Supreme Court nominees include Judges Merrick Garland, Sri Srinivasan and Patricia Ann Millett, all of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Other possible contenders include District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Paul Watford and Jane Kelly of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.