Justice News

Department of Justice
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 25, 2014

Statements on the Departure of Attorney General Eric Holder

STATEMENT FROM ETHEL KENNEDY REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

“Eric Holder has vigilantly defended an ideal Bobby strongly believed -- that the Justice Department must deliver justice for all Americans. Especially our most vulnerable, who live in the very communities where justice can be hardest to find.”

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STATEMENT FROM MYRLIE EVERS REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

“There has been no greater ally in the fight for justice, civil rights, equal rights, and voting rights than Attorney General Holder.  As a fierce consequential defender of the right to vote, the Attorney General has worked tirelessly to ensure that every American has the right, the ability and the opportunity to cast their vote and let their voice be heard.

“Attorney General Holder never shied away from the issues that greatly affect us all.  From lobbying Congress to reduce prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders, to cracking down on abuse by police departments and to working to ease racial tension throughout the United States, the Attorney General was always there ready to correct injustices and offer common sense reforms to better our nation.

“I am honored to call the Attorney General a friend, and have had the distinct pleasure of working very closely with him throughout his tenure as AG and prior to his appointment. Just last year, when we celebrated the life of my husband Medgar, Attorney General Holder was the first to offer his assistance to honor Medgar and vowed to continue his pursuit for justice for all Americans, just as Medgar did.

“I wish AG Holder continued success, and look forward to continuing our work together to ensure that that this country stays on the path to greatness, righteousness and equality that we both have dedicated our lives to.”

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STATEMENT FROM MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

“On behalf of the City of Chicago, I want to thank Attorney General Eric Holder for more than five and a half years of extraordinary service as our nation’s Attorney General. Whether it’s reducing gun violence on our streets or supporting restorative justice in our schools so more children can stay on track to graduate, the City of Chicago has had a strong partner in Attorney General Holder. He has been a great champion for keeping our streets safer, making our communities stronger, and making our criminal justice system fairer. We are a better nation because of Attorney General Holder’s outstanding service.”  

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STATEMENT FROM THE LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS CEO WADE HENDERSON REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

“Attorney General Holder has presided over one of the most forward-thinking and visionary Justice Departments in memory. Remembering only his historic confirmation as the first African-American attorney general would not do justice to his tenure over the past six years, which was one of the most successful in modern American history.

"Under his leadership, the Department of Justice has put forth groundbreaking reforms to our broken criminal justice system, championed the right to vote, defended the Affordable Care Act, protected homeowners from predatory lending, defended the federal government from state overreach on immigration laws, and backed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

"His tenure is even more remarkable considering that he was victim to an unprecedented witch hunt and abuse of power by House Republicans.  Their attempt to stain the office by issuing the only contempt citation against a sitting cabinet member in modern history only validated Attorney General Holder’s effectiveness and commitment to promoting the civil and human rights of all Americans.

"Attorney General Holder came to the job as the one of the most well-prepared nominees ever considered for the post, and he has surpassed even those high expectations. We commend his service to our nation and will work to confirm a successor that will continue Justice’s commitment to the advancement of civil and human rights.”

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STATEMENT FROM THE NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. today lauded the stellar leadership of departing Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced his resignation this morning. LDF also emphasized the need for continued vigilance in the protection of civil rights.

“When Attorney General Holder took the helm of the Department of Justice in 2009, he vowed to make the Civil Rights division the department's ‘crown jewel,’ and he has more than fulfilled that mission,” said Sherrilyn A. Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of NAACP LDF. “When the history of his tenure is written, Eric Holder will ultimately be recognized as one of the finest Attorneys General this country has ever known. In the field of civil rights there are few who could even claim to rival this Attorney General's dedication, strategic focus and commitment."

“General Holder's vision for the Civil Rights Division was one of restoration and transformation, from his leadership on voting rights, to legal services for the poor, to criminal justice reforms and, in recent weeks, to his forceful response to the tragic events in Ferguson,” Ifill added.

Ifill expressed particular support for the Attorney General’s forceful and courageous willingness to speak openly about the problem of mass incarceration in this country. “The ‘Smart on Crime’ initiatives he announced last year are a quintessential example of Attorney General Holder’s vision and boldness,” she said.

In 2013, Ifill noted, when the Supreme Court invalidated key portions of the Voting Rights Act in a devastating decision, Attorney General Holder immediately deployed the full litigation strength of the Justice Department in places like Texas and North Carolina to protect voters of color who had been made even more vulnerable to voting discrimination.  Most recently, his Justice Department attorneys stood side-by-side with LDF lawyers in a Texas courtroom to challenge that state’s discriminatory photo ID law.  A decision in that case, United States v. Texas, is expected in the next few weeks.

“It is hard to overstate the impact of General Holder’s tenure – but we are confident that his initiatives will endure, even under new leadership,” said Leslie Proll, Director of LDF’s Washington Office.  “At this critical time for America, we can’t afford to lose momentum on civil rights.  Certainly the next nominee will have big shoes to fill, but we trust and expect that his replacement will be up to the task.”

Attorney General Holder began his storied legal career as an intern at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund while at law school.  Earlier this year, he was the keynote speaker at LDF’s 60th anniversary celebration of the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. View his remarks online here.

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STATEMENT FROM THE HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality, today praised the distinguished service of Eric Holder upon learning that he will be stepping down as U.S. Attorney General pending confirmation of his successor. HRC believes that the President should use this opportunity to appoint the nation’s first out LGBT cabinet member.

"Some Attorneys General wait for history, others make history happen. Attorney General Holder made history for the LGBT community,” said Chad Griffin, President of HRC. “He was our Robert F. Kennedy, lightening the burden of every American who faces legal discrimination and social oppression. We owe him a profound debt of gratitude for his legacy of advocacy and service."

Attorney General Holder has been a staunch advocate for civil rights for LGBT Americans throughout his career in public life. As U.S. Attorney General for the District of Columbia, he formed the first hate crimes task force, which has become a model for U.S. Attorneys throughout the country. He spearheaded the administration’s decision to not defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. Under his leadership, the FBI and Civil Rights Division began actively investigating and prosecuting hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity with the implementation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. 

His leadership is without comparison in the swift implementation of the Supreme Court’s Decision in Windsor v. United States. Attorney General Holder declared that the ruling meant that, “Americans in same-sex marriages are entitled to equal protection and equal treatment under the law.” From this historic statement, more than 1,000 federal rights and benefits of marriages have begun to flow to same-sex couples across the country.

HRC continues to advocate for the historic appointment of an openly LGBT cabinet member to the Obama administration.

"President Obama faces a historic opportunity in light of Attorney General Holder's departure,” said Chad Griffin, President of HRC. “The President has expressed a commitment to appointing a cabinet that reflects the full diversity of the American people, and there are many richly-qualified candidates available to serve as the first openly-LGBT cabinet secretary. It would be a natural extension of this administration's enduring commitment to equality to send a message of visibility and inclusion by nominating such a candidate to serve in this historic role."

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STATEMENT FROM U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION ARNE DUNCAN REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

“It has been a true honor to work with Eric Holder, and I know he will remain an ally in the fight for justice and equal opportunity for every student in America. Eric understands - at a very deep, personal level - the costs to families, communities and our country when students do not have equal access to educational opportunities. I am grateful for Eric’s partnership on so many issues, among them: addressing disparities in school discipline, enforcing civil rights laws in education, keeping schools and college campuses safe from violence, and ensuring value and service for students who borrow money for college. I am so grateful to Eric, Sharon and their family for their commitment to equality for all. I look forward to continuing this work with the next Attorney General.”

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STATEMENT FROM U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR THOMAS E. PEREZ REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

“Eric Holder is a man of extraordinary conscience and competence. It was a unique honor to serve with him at the Justice Department, and I am enormously grateful for his unwavering commitment to the cause of civil rights and to reinvigorating the Civil Rights Division in particular.

“I am confident that when objective historians write about America’s most critical moments, Eric Holder will go down as one of the preeminent attorneys general in our nation’s history – whether it’s his support of LGBT equality and his indispensable role in the president’s decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act; or his aggressiveness in ensuring the right to vote; or his commitment to sentencing reform; or his tough crackdown on hate crimes, financial fraud and racial profiling.

“The Justice Department is stronger for his quarter century of service there. The nation is stronger for his lifetime of work on behalf of justice and equal opportunity.”

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STATEMENT FROM SENATOR BILL NELSON REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

“I have found Attorney General Holder to be an outstanding public servant with whom I’ve had the privilege to work with on a number of issues. Among them, he has led the fight to protect the right to vote for all citizens and that includes his recent letter warning Florida’s governor against any future efforts there to suppress the vote.  And he also has been very supportive of scientists’ efforts to unlock the secrets of potential abuse at a now-shuttered reform school in North Florida.  The president will miss his counsel.” 

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STATEMENT FROM REPRESENTATIVE JOHN CONYERS REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

“Attorney General Eric Holder has delivered the utmost distinguished service during his tenure in the Obama Administration.  As the first African American to serve as Attorney General, Mr. Holder has shown vigorous dedication to the American people and advancing civil rights for all. 

“As the fourth longest serving Attorney General in U.S. history, his devotion to the pursuit of justice is unparalleled and has comforted the nation during great times of turmoil. I appreciate that he will remain in his post until a successor is named.  I wish him well in all his future endeavors and thank him for his tireless efforts over the past six years and more.”

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STATEMENT FROM REPRESENTATIVE ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

“It is heartbreaking for me to see the Attorney General leave the administration, but it is understandable that, after six years of outstanding work on domestic and international legal issues, he would desire to return to private life,” Norton said.  “We in the District of Columbia are especially proud and grateful that it was his outstanding record as U.S. Attorney here that first brought Eric to the attention of President Clinton and, ultimately, to President Obama.  This morning, we discussed his exceptional work to avoid the harshness of federal mandatory minimum sentencing in selected cases, when the results would have been particularly unfair, by using the local courts.  This was possible because of the U.S. Attorney’s dual local and federal jurisdiction.  His work influenced the changes now underway with federal mandatory minimums that are reducing the sentences of thousands of low-level drug offenders.”

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STATEMENT FROM REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

“Over the past six years, Attorney General Holder has worked to improve our nation’s broken justice system, enforce civil rights laws, ban racial profiling, rekindle trust between law enforcement and communities of color, restructure sentencing guidelines, and identify constructive alternatives to incarceration.  In the process, he has improved how our courts and law enforcement officers do their jobs.

“As the first-ever African American to serve in this position, Attorney General Holder has promoted equal protection under the law by building bridges across ideology, race, gender, and class.  His capacity to fight for the rights of every American has been boundless, and his plan to continue many of those battles beyond his tenure at the Department of Justice is a testament to his character.

“In his 26 years of public service, he has built a legacy of which he can be extremely proud, and I wish him the best as he moves on to new endeavors.”

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STATEMENT BY REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

"I am deeply saddened to learn today that the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, is stepping down.  His resignation is a great loss for any American seeking justice in our society.  He became the symbol of fairness, an embodiment of the best in the federal government. 

 He has been a persistent and consistent leader in the struggle for civil and human rights.  That legacy is in his bones.  It is written on his heart, and his intelligence and committed leadership will be hard to replace. 

 In my conversation with him today, I thanked the Attorney General for his years of service to this nation.  He and his family have been a blessing, and his leadership will be sorely missed."

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STATEMENT BY SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

“Attorney General Holder has been an extraordinary leader of the Department of Justice, and is to be congratulated for his service.  Under his leadership, the Department has had remarkable success in convicting terrorists and disrupting threats to national security, while upholding the Department’s mission of keeping our communities safe from crime and fighting fraud.  I particularly appreciate how Attorney General Holder has restored the Civil Rights Division to its historical mission.  His dedication to defending Americans’ voting rights, at a time when these constitutional rights are under attack, has been supremely important.  Attorney General Holder has demonstrated his commitment to protecting the civil rights of all Americans with his thoughtful implementation of both the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.   His recent focus on the need for sentencing reform and programs to reduce recidivism have brought to the fore an important conversation we as a nation must have.  I thank Attorney General Holder for his service, and I wish him and his wife Sharon the very best in the future.”

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STATEMENT BY SENATOR BARBARA A. MIKULSKI REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

“During his six years as Attorney General, Eric Holder Jr., supported our federal law enforcement agents in the fight against criminals and terrorists and was a strong advocate for civil rights and criminal justice reform.

“In the dark days of sequester and shutdown, Attorney General Holder worked closely with me in my role as CJS Chairwoman to keep DOJ and its people on the job and on the case.

“As one of the longest serving members of President Obama’s cabinet, he has served his nation and his President well.

"I thank him for his dedicated service to our country and wish him well in the future.”

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STATEMENT BY SENATOR BILL NELSON REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

“During his six years as Attorney General, Eric Holder Jr., supported our federal law enforcement agents in the fight against criminals and terrorists and was a strong advocate for civil rights and criminal justice reform.

“In the dark days of sequester and shutdown, Attorney General Holder worked closely with me in my role as CJS Chairwoman to keep DOJ and its people on the job and on the case.

“As one of the longest serving members of President Obama’s cabinet, he has served his nation and his President well.

"I thank him for his dedicated service to our country and wish him well in the future.”

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TWEET BY REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

“I deeply saddened to learn today that the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, is stepping down.”

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TWEET BY SENATOR SHELDON WHITEHOUSE REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

“Thank you, Attorney General #Holder, for restoring confidence & morale and bringing honor & dignity to @TheJusticeDept for the last 6 years.”

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TWEET BY SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

Will talk with Andrea Mitchell @mitchellreports @MSNBC in a few minutes, about Eric Holder.”

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TWEET BY SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

“AG Holder was like ‘Horatius at the Bridge’ preventing or slowing down the regressive march to take away people’s hard-earned rights.”

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TWEET BY SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER

“I appreciate AG Holder’s service to our country even though we had strong disagreements at times. I wish him well in future endeavors.”

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Updated September 25, 2014