"The Department of Justice is the only Cabinet Department named for an ideal. And this is actually appropriate," U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said. "Because our work is both aspirational, and grounded in gritty reality."
Today, President Obama nominated U.S. Attorney Lynch to replace Eric Holder as the next Attorney General of the United States, or "the people's lawyer." As the President said:
The person in this position is responsible for enforcing our federal laws, including protecting our civil rights. Working with the remarkable men and women of the Justice Department, the Attorney General oversees the vast portfolio of cases, including counterterrorism and voting rights; public corruption and white-collar crime; judicial recommendations and policy reviews — all of which impact on the lives of every American, and shape the life of our nation.
As one of the longest-serving Attorney Generals in our history, Eric Holder fulfilled these duties with a commitment to justice, not as an abstract theory but as a principle. Justice is "about how laws interact with the daily lives of our people," the President said. "Whether we can make an honest living, whether we can provide for our families; whether we feel safe in our own communities and welcome in our own country; whether the words that the founders set to paper 238 years ago apply to every one of us in our time."
Attorney General Holder's fierce commitment to the pursuit of that principle is shared by U.S. Attorney Lynch. The daughter of a school librarian and a fourth-generation Baptist minister, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, she is a fair and independent lawyer who has headed one of the most prominent U.S. Attorney's offices in the country — twice. As the head of the Eastern District of New York:
She successfully prosecuted the terrorists who plotted the bomb — plotted to bomb the Federal Reserve Bank and the New York City subway. She has boldly gone after public corruption, bringing charges against public officials in both parties. She’s helped secure billions in settlements from some of the world’s biggest banks accused of fraud, and jailed some of New York’s most violent and notorious mobsters and gang members.
One of her proudest achievements was the civil rights prosecution of the officers involved in the brutal assault of the Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. Loretta might be the only lawyer in America who battles mobsters and drug lords and terrorists, and still has the reputation for being a charming "people person."
Driven by the principles of fairness, equality, and justice, Loretta has striven to make a difference for the people she serves. It's in her blood. Her grandfather, a sharecropper in the 1930s, helped folks in his community who got into trouble with the law and had no recourse under the Jim Crow system. She rode her father's shoulders to his church, where students would meet to organize anti-segregation boycotts. The sense of justice she absorbed as a young girl is what she will bring to bear at the Department of Justice.
In accepting the nomination, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said:
Today, I stand before you so thrilled, and, frankly, so humbled to have the opportunity to lead this group of wonderful people who work all day and well into the night to make that ideal a manifest reality, all as part of their steadfast protection of the citizens of this country.