United States Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation on Thursday, Sept. 25 after leading the Justice Department for six years. As the first African-American Attorney General of the United States, Holder worked passionately on voting rights and LGBTQ issues.
President Obama noted Thursday that Holder “rooted out corruption and fought violent crime.” The President also stated that Holder helped bring down the crime and incarceration rates by 10 percent during his tenure.
Holder announced his resignation at the White House, thanking Obama for the “greatest honor of [his] professional life.” According to NBC, he said, “I don’t like the idea that necessarily I’m leaving before the end of his term, but it’s the right time for me to go.”
According to CNN, Holder clarified that he would not be leaving until after his successor has been named.
He often spoke frankly when it came to race, and was outspoken during the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, where an unarmed teenager was fatally shot by a police officer. He often discussed the tensions between minority communities and the police.
“Communities of color don’t understand what it means to be a police officer, the fear that police officers have in just being on the streets,” Holder said. “When it comes to police officers, I have concerns about the training that they receive. This whole notion of implicit bias, looking at people and having stereotypical reactions to them based on their ethnicity.”
According to CNN, Holder never planned on serving as Attorney General for the entirety of President Obama’s second term. He said, “I’m confident we’re in a good place. Now was a good time to go with those accomplishments in the last few years in place.” He also said, “I think I go out having accomplished a great deal in the areas that are of importance to me. I’m satisfied with the work we have done.”
Holder’s announcement came as a surprise to some with midterm elections right around the corner.
The naming and confirmation of a new attorney general will be difficult for the White House, given that a Senate confirmation is difficult for anyone, regardless of their qualifications.
President Obama did not reveal any timeline in replacing Holder. “I chose him to serve as attorney general because he believes, as I do, that justice is not just an abstract theory–it’s a living and breathing principle.”
Holder often faced backlash during his tenure as attorney general. Many Republican lawmakers spoke out against Holder, often calling for his resignation during his term.
Holder faced harsh criticism during Operation Fast and Furious. He was also accused of defying the 2013 Supreme Court ruling in Shelby v. Holder, which struck down a part of the Voting Rights Act.
Following Holder’s announcement of his departure, House Speaker John Boehner released a statement in which he called Holder’s resignation “long overdue.”
A graduate of Columbia Law School, Holder served as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, as well as an associate judge on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia during President Reagan’s term. He was sworn in as the 82nd attorney general in February 2009 after previously serving as President Clinton’s deputy attorney general.
Editor’s Note: Information from CNN and NBC was used in this report.