Attorney General Eric Holder made his resignation official yesterday at an emotional press conference in which he thanked his family for their support and expressed gratitude for having had the chance to serve under President Obama. Now the task of choosing a new AG begins. And with the bottomless partisanship in Washington, it will be contentious.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation were saddened by the news, but also concerned about what it could mean for the civil rights work that Holder had been so active in.
“He’s been a real asset to this fight for people who didn’t necessarily get a fair chance in this justice system,” Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.) told The Root.
In a statement we received from Wisconsin Congresswoman Gwen Moore, she says, “The resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder is a great loss for our country. As one of the Obama Administration’s leading progressive voices, Attorney General Holder led the charge in support of same-sex marriage, protecting our voting rights, and addressing the inequities in our criminal justice system. As the first African-American to serve as Attorney General, his honorable legacy of justice is nothing less than historic.” “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,” continued Sherrilyn A. Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, also in a statement. “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.”
The answer to who will be next in line is still up in the air. ABC News suggests that Janet Napolitano, the first female Homeland Security Secretary from 2009 to 2013, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, lawyer Kathryn Ruemmler and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli could be in the running. The Hill agrees with Naplitano and Verrilli, but adds California AG Kamala Harris, New York federal prosecutor Preet Bharara and former Justice Department official, Tony West.
Whoever it is, they likely won’t be named for quite some time. In the meantime, AG Holder will still have to contend with the contempt of Congress charges that he was hit with (by Rep. Issa, no less). The Washington Times says he will likely not face any punishment, but the Justice Department will likely have to turn over the documents that Congress asked for. Holder’s refusal to turn them over is what prompted the charges. Republicans, generally, say “he politicized the Justice Department and set a precedent that could be abused by future administrations,” says the WT.
He went to Ferguson to calm fears and anger. He refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. He’s pushed for stricter gun laws and curbed unfair enforcement of drug laws. Sounds like AG Holder exercised his authority and legal expertise in the interests of justice, as far as we’re concerned. And he’s a straight shooter who said what he believed. (This list right here!)
“Although my time at the Justice Department will draw to a close in the coming months—once my successor has been nominated and confirmed—I want you to know that my commitment to this work will never waver,” Holder told the Congressional Black Caucus’ Annual Legislative Conference.