(CNSNews.com) - A Republican-controlled U.S. Senate voted to confirm an attorney general today who says that illegal aliens have a right to work in the United States but that partially born babies do not have a right to life.
The Senate took two votes on the nomination of Loretta Lynch: first, a "cloture" vote to end debate and allow a final vote on confirmation, and, then, the final vote itself.
Neither of these votes would have taken place had not Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brought her nomination to the floor for consideration.
Thanks to a change in the interpretation of Senate Rule XXII that the Democratic leadership pushed through in 2013, only 50 votes (as opposed the historical 60) was needed to invoke cloture and end debate on the nomination. In fact, 66 senators voted for cloture--including 20 Republicans.
Lynch, who has been serving as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York, then won confirmation as attorney general of the United States by a vote of 56 to 43. Ten Senate Republicans voted to confirm her.
At a confirmation hearing in January, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.) asked Lynch: "Who has more right to a job in this country? A lawful immigrant who's here, a green-card holder, or a citizen, or a person who entered this country unlawfully?"
"Well, Senator," said Lynch, "I believe that the right and the obligation to work is one that's shared by everyone in this country regardless of how they came here. And certainly, if someone's here, regardless of status, I would prefer that they be participating in the workplace than not participating in the workplace."
Under the laws of the United States, which as attorney general Lynch will be responsible for enforcing, foreign nationals illegally present in the United States are not permitted to work here.
In 2006, Lynch joined with a group of fellow former U.S. attorneys in signing an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court in the case of Gonzales v. Carhart, which sought to overturn the law that Congress enacted in 2003 that bans partial-birth abortion in the United States.
Arguing that the ban should be overturned--and partial-birth abortions permitted--Lynch and her fellow former U.S. attorneys said that the language of the law, including the term "living fetus," was too vague to be properly understood by those responsible for obeying it and enforcing it.
"Furthermore," said the brief Lynch signed, "the ban's specific provisions, such as the phrase 'living fetus,' are hopelessly vague as a legal proscription."
"It is unclear," she and the others said, "whether a 'living fetus' must be intact."
"A physician or prosecutor could not possibly know whether a given 'overt act' 'kill'-ed the fetus under the ban without having a clear definition of 'living,'" wrote Lynch and her fellow defenders of legalized partial-birth abortion.
In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court rejected the argument that Lynch had made. "The act is not vague," said the court.
In its opinion, the court quoted the description of a partial-birth abortion given by a nurse who assisted in one.
The doctor, said this nurse (according to the U.S. Supreme Court), "went in with forceps and grabbed the baby's legs and pulled them down into the birth canal. Then he delivered the baby's body and the arms--everything but the head. The doctor kept the head inside the uterus."
"The baby's little fingers were clasping and unclasping, and his little feet were kicking," said the nurse. "Then the doctor stuck the scissors in the back of his head, and the baby's arms jerked out, like a startle reaction, like a flinch, like a baby does when he thinks he is going to fall.
"The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening, and sucked the baby's brains out," said the nurse. "Now the baby went completely limp."
"He cut the umbilical cord," the nurse said of the doctor who had just sucked out the baby's brains. "He threw the baby in a pan, along with the placenta and the instruments he had just used."
At her confirmation hearing, Lynch affirmed that she had signed on to the amicus brief opposing the ban on partial-birth abortion, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R.-S.C.) told her that that did not disqualify her from serving as attorney general.
"In 2006, you signed an amicus brief supporting Planned Parenthood's opposition to [the] partial-birth abortion ban. Is that correct?" asked Graham.
"Yes," said Lynch. "I was one of a number of former Justice Department officials [who signed it]. Although, the amicus brief that we signed was focused on the issue of the facial issues of the law, and how it might impact the perception of law enforcement's discretion and independence," she said.
"The only reason I mentioned that," said Graham, "is that if there's a Republican president in the future, an attorney general nominee takes an opposite view on an issue like abortion, I hope our friends on the other side will acknowledge it's OK to be an advocate for a cause, as their lawyer. That doesn't disqualify you from serving."
The 20 Republicans who voted to move forward on a vote with Lynch's nomination by voting for cloture included: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Susan Collins of Maine, Bob Corker of Tennessee, John Cornyn of Texas, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Rob Portman of Ohio, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Rounds of Kansas, John Thune of South Dakota, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
In the 56 to 43 confirmation vote, 10 Republicans voted for Lynch. They included: Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Susan Collins of Maine, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Rob Portman of Ohio.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas opposed the confirmation of Lynch, spoke against her confirmation on the Senate floor, and voted against cloture. But then he did not cast a vote on her final confirmation. His office did not immediately respond to inquiries about why he did not vote.