Eric Holder, you have devoted your life to building a more inclusive, more just and more perfect union by upholding equal justice under the law.
You are a grandson of a civil rights activist and son of an immigrant veteran who faced postwar discrimination. You attended a desegrated school.
Inspired by the leaders of the U.S. civil rights movement, and intrigued by Robert Kennedy’s work in the Department of Justice, you determined the law was your best avenue to effect positive change. After earning a degree from Columbia Law School, you entered the Department of Justice.
During the decades that followed, you worked under six presidents from both major political parties. For 12 years, you fought corruption as a prosecutor in the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan nominated you a D.C. superior court judge. You were elevated to U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia in 1993. Four years later, under President Bill Clinton, you became the nation’s first African American deputy attorney general. You were confirmed by a 100-to-zero Senate vote, nigh unto unthinkable nowadays.
In 2012, President Barack Obama appointed you the nation’s first African American attorney general. After serving in that history-making role, you rejoined private practice at Covington & Burling LLP.
In these positions, you have combatted corruption, criminal activity, terrorism and discriminatory immigration laws. You have fought for voting rights, criminal-justice reform, antitrust enforcement and environmental protection. As attorney general, you logged a record number of prosecutions for human-trafficking and hate crimes and opened the door to federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
In 2014, you were named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People for your tireless work for human rights. As President Obama has said, your work is driven by a deep conviction that “justice is not just an abstract theory. It’s a living and breathing principle.”
President Ensign, for his unwavering commitment to equal justice and the rule of law, and for his trailblazing and significant contributions to human-rights, I am proud to present Eric Holder Jr. as a candidate for an honorary degree of justice administration.