On January 28, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee as a part of her confirmation hearing. She has been tapped by President Obama to replace outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder. Though the Republican-controlled Senate has the power to confirm or deny her nomination, senators typically show extraordinary leniency in approving presidential appointees. Politico notes that Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has threatened to block her nomination, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the Senate will go forward with the vote to confirm Lynch. During her testimony, she gave answers that seemed to contradict the Obama administration’s positions on marijuana legalization and also dodged a question on whether the president has the power to carry out a lethal drone strike on American soil against a US citizen that poses no imminent threat.
Attorney General Eric Holder, who is set to step down as soon as his replacement has been confirmed by the Senate, has taken a decidedly hands-off approach to enforcing marijuana prohibition on states that have taken steps to legalize it for recreational or medical use. NPR notes that Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) asked attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch if she shares President Obama’s views on marijuana, characterizing his position with a quote from the President in which he said to the The New Yorker, “I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”
Lynch, a prosecutor, took a hardcore prohibitionist’s stance in contrast with President Obama and Eric Holder, signaling that she might crack down on pot as attorney general. Said Lynch, “Well, Senator, I certainly don’t hold that view, and don’t agree with that view of marijuana as a substance. I certainly think that the president was speaking from his personal experience and personal opinion — neither of which I am able to share.” She continued, “Not only do I not support legalization of marijuana — it is not the position of the Department of Justice, currently, to support the legalization, nor would it be the position should I become confirmed as attorney general.” According to The Los Angeles Times, she said, “I will continue to enforce the marijuana laws, particularly with respect to the money-laundering aspect to it.”
Breitbart highlighted an exchange that took place between Senator Ted Cruz and Loretta Lynch in which the two clashed over the use of drone strikes on US soil against American citizens. Said Cruz, “In your legal judgment, is it constitutional for the federal government to utilize a drone strike against an American citizen on US soil if that individual does not pose an imminent threat?”
Despite the fact that Cruz qualified the question by pointing out the fact that the hypothetical drone strike target does not pose an imminent threat, Lynch replied that she would need more information to determine whether the use of lethal force would be constitutional. Said Lynch, “Well, Senator, I think with respect to the use of lethal force by any means one would always want to look at the law enforcement issues involved there, and, certainly, if you could provide more context there, I could place it in the scope of either a case or an issue that I might have familiarity with.”
After Senator Cruz made several failed attempts to get Lynch’s legal opinion on lethal drone strikes on US soil by rephrasing his question, he said, “I am disappointed that, like Attorney General Holder, you are declining to give a simple, straight-forward answer and, in fact, what I think is the obvious answer of no — the federal government can not use lethal force from a drone to kill an American citizen on American soil if that individual doesn’t pose an imminent threat. I don’t view that as a difficult legal question.”
On the subject of marijuana legalization, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode last September which took on the federal government’s mixed messages on cannabis prohibition. Watch it in the embedded player below.