Remarks by the President at the Installation of Attorney General Eric Holder - Page 4 of 5

Remarks by the President at the Installation of Attorney General Eric Holder

That is why, Mr. President, I pledge to you, to my fellow Department of Justice employees, and to the American people as a whole, that I will lead a Department of Justice that is firmly rooted in and solely guided by these sacred principles. In all that we do, in all that requires us to make the different judgments that must withstand the scrutiny of the ages, these values will serve as our eternal touchstone.

It will not always be easy to solely let these principles serve as the enduring markers that guide our path. This will be particularly true when we face unforeseen and even existential challenges. And it won’t always be popular as we apply them to unfamiliar dangers. But it will always be right.

There are some who say that we can no longer afford to use these principles as our foundation. There are some who say that the challenges we face are too grave, that the stakes are too high. And there are some who say that these principles weaken us as we meet the challenges of this modern age.

But here is what I say: The power of this nation is at its zenith when the actions of our government are firmly grounded on the bedrock of the rule of law and the values that make our nation unique.

My friends, the true test of our nation’s greatness is whether we uphold our most cherished principles not when it is easy, but when it is hard. Our nation, our department must meet this test this time. We have done so in the past; we will do so again.

You, the women and men of the Department of Justice, know that there is no contradiction between our ideals and our efforts to enforce the law. Our commitment to the rule of law, to equal protection, and to due process are not an obstacle to be overcome, but the foundation upon which you and generations of our predecessors have built the department’s long and storied history.

This nation, this department has faced novel and difficult challenges before, and we have overcome them. And let no one doubt that we will overcome the challenges we face today and those that we will confront tomorrow.

And let no one doubt that we shall do so, guided by the principles that gave birth to our great nation and that are enshrined not only on the parchment pages of the Constitution but also in the living spirit of the American ideal and in the halls of the department that I now call home for a final time.

Here is my commitment to you as the new Attorney General: We at the Department of Justice will protect our people from those abroad and from those within our borders who seek to do us harm. We will protect our nation’s markets from fraud and from those who prey on the vulnerable. We will protect the civil rights of our fellow citizens — all of our fellow citizens — in the workplace, in the housing market, in the educational institutions, and in the voting booth, as well as in their day-to-day lives. We will protect our environment from depredation and our public institutions from corruption. We will be fair and we will be just in all of the things that we do.