Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation Sept. 25 at a press conference in the White House. Holder, who served as the United States’ first black attorney general for six years, will continue in his role until a successor is found.
Despite Pepperdine’s distance from Washington, D.C., Pepperdine law professor and former federal judge Bruce Einhorn said that if he were currently a law student, this news would cause him to wonder if the next attorney general would be as “open and committed” to diverse hiring practices for new lawyers.
“[Holder] was … open to law students of various backgrounds, including people of color, women and LGBT,” he said, adding that Holder was also dedicated to hiring the best of all backgrounds.
Einhorn attended high school with Holder at NYC Stuyvesant and earned his undergraduate degree with him at Columbia University. He also worked with Holder in a professional setting as a judge when Holder was deputy attorney general under the Clinton administration.
Einhorn noted Holder’s signature achievement is his focus on civil rights and his work toward their shared goal of interracial harmony, which was first introduced under Robert Kennedy.
Einhorn, who teaches Asylum and Refugee Law at the School of Law, said he has discussed Holder’s resignation with his classes in the context of Holder’s personality and character.
“I think it’s important to tell all that to students so they understand that there’s more to being a good lawyer than just being smart … In the end it’s all about character,” he said.
President of the Pepperdine College Republicans Devon Ciby holds a different view of Holder’s time as attorney general, citing the Fast and Furious gun smuggling scandal, in which arms were sold to Mexican cartels for tracking purposes. The scandal led to his being held in contempt of Congress. Ciby also mentioned Holder’s decline to prosecute the Black Panthers for voter intimidation.
“I feel as though Holder should have resigned … when the Fast and Furious scandal first broke out,” Ciby said. “I think his resignation is a bit past due, to be honest … He’s just been riddled with scandal … He’s been sort of a lightning rod for it.”
However, Ciby said he recognized Holder’s work in civil rights and his accomplishment of being “one of the longest running attorney generals in the history of the U.S.” Ciby said he does not believe that Holder’s resignation will directly affect Pepperdine students, but that students should still take interest in the recent news.
“It’s a major move in American politics, and I think all students should be heavily involved in politics,” he said.
Jennifer Volcy, a second year law student and the secretary of the Black Law Students Association, said that though she is not familiar with Holder as an individual, she does have knowledge of his more prominent cases and scandals.
“I know that he had some scandals, but in general I feel like he did his job,” she said. “I don’t disagree with most of his policies.”
She also said that news of Holder’s resignation may draw students’ attention to law’s political aspects, instead of the corporate or business sides of law.
“If anything, I think it would make them more interested in the political side of law,” she said. “Something like this kind of opens their eyes up … [and] brings more attention to that aspect of the legal world.”
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