Senate Judiciary approves Connors as US attorney for Hawaii

November 4, 2021 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved President Joe Biden’s nomination of Clare Connors to be the next U.S. attorney for Hawaii.

The nomination now goes to the full Senate.

Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii spoke briefly in support of the appointment before the vote, hailing Connors’ experience as an assistant U.S. attorney, state attorney general and lawyer in private practice.

“So obviously she comes exceptionally well qualified for this position,” said Hirono, a Democrat.

Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Mike Lee of Utah opposed Connors’ nomination.

Hawley and Blackburn also voted against the other four U.S. attorney nominations up for consideration, for the districts of Colorado, Rhode Island, Vermont and southern Ohio.

Some Native Hawaiians objected to Connors’ appointment, saying she treated dozens of elders like criminals when the office she oversees as Hawaii’s attorney general prosecuted them for blocking a road while protesting the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

The protesters believe the summit of Mauna Kea, where the Thirty Meter Telescope has a permit to build a new observatory, is sacred. They say building there would further desecrate a place already defiled by a dozen other telescopes.

Hawaii’s other U.S. senator, Democrat Brian Schatz, previously expressed support for Connors’ nomination, as have Hawaii Gov. David Ige and previous U.S. attorneys for Hawaii.

U.S. attorneys are the federal government’s top law enforcement officer in a district.