U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder

(NEW YORK) The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. today lauded the stellar leadership of departing Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced his resignation this morning. LDF also emphasized the need for continued vigilance in the protection of civil rights.

“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,” said Sherrilyn A. Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of NAACP LDF. “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.”

“General Holder’s vision for the Civil Rights Division was one of restoration and transformation, from his leadership on voting rights, to legal services for the poor, to criminal justice reforms and, in recent weeks, to his forceful response to the tragic events in Ferguson,” Ifill added. 

Ifill expressed particular support for the Attorney General’s forceful and courageous willingness to speak openly about the problem of mass incarceration in this country. “The ‘Smart on Crime’ initiatives he announced last year are a quintessential example of Attorney General Holder’s vision and boldness,” she said.

In 2013, Ifill noted, when the Supreme Court invalidated key portions of the Voting Rights Act in a devastating decision, Attorney General Holder immediately deployed the full litigation strength of the Justice Department in places like Texas and North Carolina to protect voters of color who had been made even more vulnerable to voting discrimination.  Most recently, his Justice Department attorneys stood side-by-side with LDF lawyers in a Texas courtroom to challenge that state’s discriminatory photo ID law.  A decision in that case, United States v. Texas, is expected in the next few weeks.

“It is hard to overstate the impact of General Holder’s tenure – but we are confident that his initiatives will endure, even under new leadership,” said Leslie Proll, Director of LDF’s Washington Office.  “At this critical time for America, we can’t afford to lose momentum on civil rights.  Certainly the next nominee will have big shoes to fill, but we trust and expect that his replacement will be up to the task.”

Attorney General Holder began his storied legal career as an intern at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund while at law school.  Earlier this year, he was the keynote speaker at LDF’s 60th anniversary celebration of the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. View his remarks online here: