Holder resigning: Attorney general backed rights

Holder resigning: Attorney general backed rights

WASHINGTON - The Associated Press
Holder resigning: Attorney general backed rights

US Attorney General Holder embraces President Obama after the president announced Holder's resignation at the White House in Washington, Sept. 25. REUTERS Photo

Eric Holder, America’s first black attorney general and an unflinching champion of civil rights in enforcing the nation’s laws, announced his resignation Sept. 25after leading the Justice Department since the first days of President Barack Obama’s term. He is the fourth-longest-serving attorney general in U.S. history.

Holder, the administration’s point man on the civil rights investigation into the police shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri, won’t leave until a replacement is confirmed, which means he could remain in office for months.

Senate Republicans signaled they were preparing for a confirmation fight after years of battles with Holder. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said; “I will be scrutinizing the president’s replacement nominee to ensure the Justice Department finally returns to prioritizing law enforcement over partisan concerns.”

In an emotional ceremony at the White House, Obama called Holder “the people’s lawyer” and credited him with driving down both the nation’s crime and incarceration rate - the first time they have declined together in more than 40 years.

“Through it all, he’s shown a deep and abiding fidelity to one of our most cherished ideals as a people, and that is equal justice under the law,” Obama said.

Holder responded by speaking of how he was inspired as a boy by Robert Kennedy’s leadership on civil rights at the Justice Department, his voice choking as he expressed his thanks to Obama and his own family. “You got through it,” Obama could be heard telling Holder as the audience stood and applauded.