The resistance to Massachusetts getting its first Black woman U.S. attorney has been so overt that the Boston Globe described it as “unusual pushback” as Republicans try to paint President Joe Biden‘s nominee as being “pro-crime” based on a flawed, partisan premise.
Rachael Rollins, who as Suffolk County District Attorney, on Thursday was given the latest in a series of setbacks in her nomination process to be U.S. attorney in Massachusetts after Senate Republicans disingenuously pointed to her record as well as a past allegation for which Boston’s top prosecutor was already formally cleared of any wrongdoing.
Both Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz were among the most vocal of people opposing Rollins’ nomination and claimed she and her policies have contributed to the spike in violent crime in the U.S., something they suggested without proof would continue if she is confirmed. The Senate Republicans have maintained their positions despite a coalition of bipartisan support for Rollins’ nomination, including Massachusetts Senate Democrats Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren along with New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker as well as three former U.S. attorneys for Massachusetts who are Republicans.
Cotton flirted with racist dog-whistling when he claimed Rollins — the first Black woman to be Suffolk County District Attorney — has “radical pro-crime stances” and said she would be better off working in “the public defender’s office.”
Cotton announced immediately after Rollins was nominated that he intended to block her path forward.
Cruz claims Rollins “has been vocal and aggressive against prosecuting crime” because she has refused to prosecute low-level crimes, a policy being employed by a growing number of district attorneys around the country.
“If you want to steal a bunch of stuff, this is your person,” Cruz added.
While Republicans pointed to Rollins’ policies, their interest in her nomination was seemingly especially piqued when a white Boston woman claimed she was the victim of the DA’s alleged road rage late last year.
In a police complaint ultimately reviewed by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Katie Lawson accused Rollins of threatening her and abusing her power. Lawson’s complaint alleged that Rollins activated her car’s sirens and lights and threatened to issue a ticket during an encounter at a shopping center on Dec. 24, 2020.
Rollins was ultimately cleared by Healey’s office. But Lawson, upon learning of Rollins’ nomination to be U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, has contacted U.S. Senators via emails and phone calls urging them to vote against the confirmation.
So far, Rollins is the only U.S. attorney nominee out of eight tapped by Biden to not be confirmed. The other seven were confirmed last week.
The opposition by Senate Republicans to Rollins’ nomination doesn’t mean that all bets are off for her. But it does mean that the confirmation process was delivered yet another delay in an example of partisan politics gone wrong — or right, depending on who you ask.
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