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Attorney General Eric Holder at the Installation of Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez
Washington, D.C. ~ Friday, November 13, 2009

Remarks as prepared for delivery.

Thank you, David.

 

I apologize for arriving late. As you may know, earlier today I announced decisions on the prosecution of ten detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility, and work related to that important effort has taken up a good part of my day since then.

 

It is a pleasure to be with you today as we welcome Tom Perez back to the Department of Justice. But before we celebrate Tom’s installation, I would like to extend special thanks to Melody Barnes, Stephen Sachs, and Judge Linda Davis, for their roles in today’s ceremony. On behalf of the Justice Department, we are honored to have you with us today.

 

As I look across the Great Hall this afternoon, I see many friends and familiar faces –from Capital Hill, from the Justice Department, and from the civil rights community. I’d like to thank each of you for joining us, as well. Over the years, many of you have worked hand-in-hand with the Justice Department to address the discrimination and inequality found so often in our nation’s most vulnerable communities. Tom and I share a deep respect for this history of collaboration, and a commitment to see it continued.

 

Working together, we have already made important progress on several fronts. With help from our friends in Congress, the civil rights community, and the White House, we provided the Civil Rights Division with the resources and the leadership support that it desperately needed.   Just a few weeks ago – after eleven long years – we finally secured the tools necessary for the Civil Rights Division to protect all Americans from the scourge of bias-motivated violence. But most important, over the last nine months – with the support of many in this room – we took decisive steps to renew the promise of equal rights in the homes, the neighborhoods, and the lives of individuals across our great country.

 

The Civil Rights Division that Tom leads today is stronger than it was nine months ago, but there is much more work to be done. The Civil Rights Division may be “back open for business,” as I often say but that cannot be enough. We must commit ourselves not just to restoring the Civil Rights Division. We must commit ourselves to making the Division stronger and better than it has ever been before and ready to confront the 21 st century issues that have already begun to present themselves. This will take time – but not too much time. The quest for justice must be an impatient thing – for we all know what happens when justice is delayed. So I am an impatient Attorney General.

 

The work of transforming the Civil Rights Division will take energy, resources, and the continued hard work of its dedicated professionals. But it will also take a leader who is committed to enforcing the civil rights statutes of the 20 th Century, even as we respond to the civil rights challenges of the 21 st Century. It will take a leader like John Doar or Burke Marshall, who embodies the sense of urgency demanded by the struggle for equal rights. I have every confidence that Tom Perez is that impatient leader.

 

It goes without saying that Tom is an excellent lawyer. But he is more than that. Tom is a veteran of the Justice Department and an alumnus of the Civil Rights Division. He is personally-acquainted with the Division’s work, and with the challenges it faces today. Like many of us in the Justice Department, Tom worked to enforce our nation’s laws under both Republican and Democratic Attorneys General. He knows that partisanship has no place in the protection of civil rights. And he shares my commitment to the Division’s mission – vigorously and faithfully protecting the civil rights of all Americans.

 

When I returned to the Department earlier this year, I pledged that the work of the Civil Rights Division would be one of my highest priorities. That was true in February. It is true today. And it will remain true as long as I am privileged to serve as Attorney General. Tom, I look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead. The Civil Rights Division has my full support, and so do you. Welcome back, Tom. And congratulations.

 

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