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AG Nominee Refuses to Identify Limits of Executive Power

Demonstrates no substantive differences from AG Holder

WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, today in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, questioned Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, who refused to identify the limits of executive power regarding unilateral executive amnesty, the investigation of illegal targeting by the IRS, and the use of drones on American citizens.
With regard to the limits of executive power, Sen. Cruz asked, “Let me ask about your understanding of prosecutorial discretion. Would it allow a subsequent president… to state that there are other laws that the administration will not enforce - labor laws, environmental laws - would it allow a president to say every existing federal labor law shall heretofore not apply to the state of Texas because I am using my prosecutorial discretion to refuse to enforce those laws? In your judgment, would that be constitutional?”
Nominee Lynch responded, “Again, I would have to know what legal basis was being proposed for that.”
Sen. Cruz continued, “I find it remarkable that you are unable to answer that question. I can answer it straightforward. It would be patently unconstitutional for any subsequent president to refuse to enforce the tax laws, or the labor laws, or the immigration laws for the very same reason that President Obama’s actions refusing to enforce immigration laws are unconstitutional. And it is discouraging that a nominee who hopes to serve as attorney general will not give a straightforward answer to that question.”
With regards to citizens’ privacy rights, Sen. Cruz asked, “I’d like to ask you now a question I’ve asked Attorney General Holder, and that he repeatedly declined to answer… it concerns the civil liberties and privacy rights of Americans and drone policy. And my question to you is, in your legal judgment, is it constitutional for the federal government to utilize a drone strike against an American citizen on U.S. soil if that individual does not pose an imminent threat?”
After a series of exchanges in which AG nominee Lynch avoided directly addressing the question, Ms. Lynch responded, “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.”
Sen. Cruz responded, “I’m disappointed that like Attorney General Holder you are declining to give a simple straightforward answer and, in fact, what I think is the obvious answer is no, the federal government cannot 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 and indeed, it demonstrates what I think has been the consistent failing of this administration’s approach to constitutional law is that it always, always, always opts in favor of government power.”
Additional segments of Sen. Cruz’s questions to Ms. Lynch are available below.