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Rachael Rollins Confirmed As Massachusetts’ First Black Woman US Attorney After VP Kamala Harris Breaks Senate Tie

Vice President Kamala Harris gave the deciding vote on Thursday, confirming Boston’s top prosecutor Rachael Rollins as Massachusetts’ first Black woman U.S. attorney. According to AP News, Rollins earned her new position by a 51-50 vote after weeks of voting. The Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing’s vote in September left in an 11-11 tie along party lines which resulted in Wednesday’s final vote.

Rollins responded to the news via a statement saying that she was “honored and humbled” to be granted the opportunity to deliver “data-driven, evidence-based approaches” on the federal level. The famed prosecutor, who hails from Suffolk County, says that violent crimes have gone down significantly within her jurisdiction –– more than 20% from the five-year average. The decrease has been noted as exemplary amid other cities experiencing large jumps in violence. 

“Every policy and initiative that I have put in place as Suffolk County District Attorney has been designed to improve the safety and well-being of the communities I serve, to improve the public’s trust in law enforcement and our courts and to improve the fairness and equity of the criminal legal system,” she said.

Rollins’ appointment makes her the first Black woman to hold the office for Massachusetts, but it’s not her first time breaking through the glass ceiling. She was previously elected in 2018 as the first woman of color to take over as Suffolk County’s district attorney. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker will take over for her office once her term ends in 2022. 

Republican senators including Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton were against her appointment and have criticized Rollins for being too soft on criminals in her approach to tackling crime. 

“Her confirmation as U.S. attorney would put Americans in danger,” Cotton’s spokesperson said in October.

Rollins’ appointment prompted the partisan faceoff in the divided Senate over Biden’s executive and judicial branch picks, The Boston Globe reports. The Republican opposition pushed the Senate to hold its first roll call vote to confirm a U.S. attorney since 1975. 

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