AG Lynch asks not to be considered for Supreme Court vacancy

Attorney General Loretta Lynch has asked to not be considered for the Supreme Court vacancy “given the urgent issues before the Department of Justice,” a Justice Department official said Tuesday.

Lynch was among many names at the center of speculation over whom President Obama will nominate to fill the seat left by Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last month at age 79.

Justice Department spokeswoman Melanie Newman confirmed Tuesday that she does not want to be considered.

“As the conversation around the Supreme Court vacancy progressed, the Attorney General determined that the limitations inherent in the nomination process would curtail her effectiveness in her current role,” she said in a statement.

“Given the urgent issues before the Department of Justice, she asked not to be considered for the position. While she is deeply grateful for the support and good wishes of all those who suggested her as a potential nominee, she is honored to serve as Attorney General, and she is fully committed to carrying out the work of the Department of Justice for the remainder of her term.”

Lynch signaled as much last month, when she told Fox News she hadn’t had any conversations with the president about the vacancy, adding she was “extremely happy” with her job.

Meanwhile, the White House continues to weigh its options, as Republicans vow to oppose any nominee – and call for Obama to defer to the next president to nominate a successor.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that Republicans were "acting like big, tough people threatening to destroy the reputation of a Supreme Court nominee they haven't even met yet."

Reid and other Democrats denounced a comment by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, who told reporters late Monday that anyone nominated by Obama to the high court "will bear some resemblance to a piñata.”

"They don't know who the nominee is. They don't know anything about the person, but they already have in their mind they are going to beat this person like a piñata," Reid said.

Cornyn said Tuesday that his comparison was "only to say the confirmation process around here has gotten pretty tough."

Fox News’ Matthew Dean and The Associated Press contributed to this report.