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Attorney General Eric Holder at His Installation Ceremony


Washington, DC
United States


Remarks as prepared for delivery.


Thank you, Mr. President for your remarks and for the trust you have placed in me by asking me to lead this great Department.  I also want to thank my wife, Sharon, and my three wonderful children, whose love and support sustain me.  I want to say hello to my mother who is recovering from a recent illness but who I know is watching this event.  You work hard and you get well.  And I want to thank the many career professionals from the Department I see here today.  Over my career, you have been my mentors, my colleagues, and my friends.  It is your dedication to duty and love of country that gives the Department of Justice its heart and its soul, and ensures that it lives up to the ideals enshrined in our Constitution that are our special duty to protect.

 Ours is a nation of laws, guided by principles that reflect the essential goodness of the American people.  Many of these values – adherence to the rule of law, equality before the law, and the applicability of Due Process – are as well-known as they are timeless.  And yet, these principles can only truly be the animating force of our legal system if we, both individually and collectively, make it so.  That is why, Mr. President, I pledge to you, to my fellow Department of Justice employees, and to the American people as a whole that I will lead a Department of Justice that is firmly rooted in, and solely guided by, these sacred principles.  In all that we do, in all that requires us to make the difficult judgments that must withstand the scrutiny of the ages, these values will serve as our eternal touchstone.

 It will not always be easy to solely let these principles serve as the enduring markers that will guide our path.  This will be particularly true when we face unforeseen and even existential challenges.  And it won’t always be popular, as we apply them to unfamiliar dangers.  But it will always be right.  There are some who say that we can no longer afford to use these principles as our foundation.  There are some who say that the challenges we face are too grave, that the stakes are too high.  And there are some who say that these principles weaken us as we meet the challenges of this modern age. 

 But here is what I say – the power of this nation is at its zenith when the actions of our government are firmly grounded on the bedrock of the rule of law and the values that make our nation unique.

 My friends, the true test of our nation’s greatness is whether we uphold our most cherished principles, not when it is easy, but when it is hard.  Our nation – our Department – has met this test in times past.  We will do so again.  You – the women and men who compose the Department of Justice – know that there is no contradiction between our ideals and our efforts to enforce the law.  Our commitment to the rule of law, to equal protection, and to Due Process are not an obstacle to be overcome, but the foundation upon which you – and generations of our predecessors – have built this Department’s long and storied history.

 This nation – this Department – has faced novel and difficult challenges before.  We have overcome them.  And let no one doubt that we will overcome the challenges we face today, and those that will confront us tomorrow.  And let no one doubt that we shall do so guided by the principles that gave birth to our great nation and that are enshrined not only on the parchment pages of the Constitution but also in the living spirit of the American ideal and in the halls of the Department that I now call home for a final time.

 Here is my commitment to you as the new Attorney General.  We at the Department of Justice will protect our people from those abroad – and from those within our borders – who seek to do us harm.

 We will protect our nation’s markets from fraud and from those who prey on the vulnerable.

 We will protect the civil rights of our fellow citizens, all of our fellow citizens – in the workplace, in the housing market, in our educational institutions and in the voting booth, as well as in their day to day lives.

 We will protect our environment from depredation, and our public institutions from corruption.

 We will be fair and just in all of the things that we do. 

 And we will zealously protect our Constitution – indeed, the very rule of law itself – from those who would force upon us the false choice between security and liberty, between safety and justice.

 During the last eight weeks, I have had the opportunity to meet with a number of you, and to thank you for your dedicated work for our Department and for our Nation that we are all so fortunate to serve.  In the coming months, I hope to meet many more of you, and to talk about and refine the methods we will use in our common cause. 

 Please know that I consider it to be a special privilege – the highest honor and the highlight of my life and career- to return to this institution that I love for the last time and to be given the responsibility to lead it.  Please also know that I am proud to serve with you. 

 This is our time.  When Americans generations from now look back on the work we will do, let us strive to insure that they say we kept the faith and that we made a superb Department of Justice even greater.

 Thank you my friends.

Updated August 20, 2015