By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer
The Attorney General of the United States is the head of the Department of Justice and the chief law enforcement officer of the country. Yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder resigned, following months of discussion with Obama over his planned departure. As the first African-American to hold the position and 4th longest serving Attorney General in history, Holder focused on advancing civil rights and reforming the criminal justice system.
Holder is one of the earliest members of President Barack Obama’s cabinet, which is made up of the heads of his “executive” government (the law enforcing branch of the USA). Their power is balanced by Congress in the lawmaking “legislative” branch and the Supreme Court in the law evaluating “judicial” branch. These three branches work together to create, judge, and enforce the law, to ensure that citizens are treated fairly.
Before becoming Attorney General, Holder was a Superior Court judge of the District of Columbia, appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan. He also was a USA Attorney who gained a reputation as a tough prosecutor targeting corruption in the government. Later, he became Deputy Attorney General under former President Bill Clinton.
After becoming Attorney General in 2009, Holder pushed hard to reform prisons, and the federal prison population has dropped by almost 5,000 inmates this year, the first reduction of its kind in decades. He also was very vocal in making sure that underrepresented minorities were given a chance to succeed and be treated equally under the law. His passionate and sometimes controversial decisions left a lasting impact.
Featured image courtesy of White House. Image of Eric Holder courtesy of United States Department of Justice.