Justice News

Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden at the Installation of Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez
Washington, DC
United States
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Friday, November 13, 2009

Remarks as prepared for delivery.

Good afternoon. I’m delighted to help install my good friend Tom Perez as the new Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.

Tom is unquestionably the right person to take the reins at the Civil Rights Division in this critical moment. He served with great distinction as a trial attorney in the Division, working day to day to enforce the civil rights laws against the most egregious offenders. He helped lead the Division as Deputy Assistant Attorney General and then helped forge national civil rights policy as a Congressional staffer. His duties in that role included work on an early version of the hate crimes statute, pioneering efforts finally rewarded just last month when the President signed the Hate Crimes Bill into law. In these capacities, I had the great privilege and pleasure of working with Tom, witnessing first hand his vision and his grace under pressure.

In the late 1990s, Tom reinvigorated the Department of Health and Human

Services’ Office of Civil Rights, and since then has served with great distinction as Maryland's Secretary of Labor. Most recently, he was my boss during the transition, where I again experienced his skill as a leader, this time as one of the led.

I know, therefore, that Tom’s leadership marks a new departure for the Civil

Rights Division, rooted in rededication to its core mission in this young century. Since it was created in 1957, the Division has had a central role in protecting the rights of all Americans. It has protected the rights of Americans to be free from discrimination in voting, education, employment, housing, and law enforcement. Its mission is to move

America closer to its highest ideal of liberty and justice for all, and in that effort to protect all of us -- including the most vulnerable of us -- from those who would violate or fail to live up to that ideal.

This important work is just as critical now as it has been in the past. We have made progress. But many of the old problems are still with us. And we face new challenges even as old ones fade away.

Tom Perez is equal to the task. We are fortunate that he is here, and I know that his work will be a great service to our nation. And speaking of leadership, it is a great privilege to introduce Attorney General Eric Holder. It’s an honor for me and all of us serving in the Department to work for him. Like Tom Perez, he is ideally suited to take on a vital task at a critical time. He first joined the Department as an Honors attorney in the Public Integrity Section. He later served brilliantly as United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. From 1997 to 2000, he was the Deputy Attorney General, where he led the Department with great distinction.

So he is of this Department even as he leads it. These roles, his recent stint in private practice, and his earlier service as an Associate Judge of the Superior Court, have given him a unique understanding of this Department’s strengths and its challenges. He understands how our work affects the everyday lives of all Americans.

Even more important, based on that understanding, he has a vision that challenges us to do more, to do better, in this transformative time in our country to fulfill our broad missions of protecting the public safety while upholding and embodying the rule of law; and protecting the equal rights and equal dignity of all. He is committed to using his opportunity to serve as Attorney General to help move this country to a better place, with lasting effect.

It is an honor to give you the Attorney General of the United States.