United States Attorney General

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Official seal of the United States Department of Justice

The United States Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States Government. The Attorney General is in charge of the United States Department of Justice. The Attorney General is a Cabinet-level post, appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate. As outlined by the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, the Attorney General is seventh in line of succession.[1]

Current Attorney General

Attorney General Eric Holder

Eric H. Holder, Jr. is the current Attorney General of the United States. He is the 82nd person to serve in the office and was sworn in on February 3, 2009.[2]


On September 25, 2014, Holder announced his resignation from the post as soon as a successor is confirmed.[3]

Biography of Eric Holder

Attorney General Holder received an undergraduate degree in American History from Columbia College in 1973 and a J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1976. After receiving his law degree, Holder clerked for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice. He served as an attorney with the Public Integrity Section of the DOJ and later was a partner in private practice with the firm Covington & Burling LLP.[2]


The Attorney General is appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate. He or she serves at the pleasure of the President and can be removed by the President at any time.[4]

History of the office

The position of Attorney General was established by the Judiciary Act of 1789, which called for an individual to "prosecute and conduct all suits in the Supreme Court in which the United States shall be concerned..."[5] On July 1, 1870, the modern Department of Justice was created with the Act to Establish the Department of Justice. The department was responsible for all criminal and civil suits affecting the United States, in addition to federal law enforcement. The Office of the Solicitor General was also created at this time.[5]

Responsibilities of the Department of Justice

The members of the Department of Justice represent the United States in legal matters generally and offer advice and opinions to the President and to the heads of the executive departments of the Government when so requested. The Attorney General appears in person to represent the Government before the Supreme Court of the United States in cases of exceptional importance. Under most circumstances the United States Solicitor General argues before the Supreme Court on the government's behalf.

History of the office

The first Attorney General of the United States was Edmund Jennings Randolph, who served in the position from 1789 to 1794. Below is a table of all other United States Attorneys General, in addition to their years of service. (External links will direct you to official biographies from the United States Department of Justice website.)

The average term in office a United States Attorney General, prior to the current officeholder, is 2.67 years.

Attorney General Years of service
Eric Holder 2009-Present
Michael B. Mukasey 2007-2009
Alberto R. Gonzales 2005-2007
John David Ashcroft 2001-2005
Janet Reno 1993-2001
William Pelham Barr 1991-1993
Richard Lewis Thornburgh 1988-1991
Edwin Meese, III 1985-1988
William French Smith 1981-1985
Benjamin Richard Civiletti 1979-1981
Griffin Boyette Bell 1977-1979
Edward Hirsch Levi 1975-1977
William Bart Saxbe 1974-1975
Elliot Lee Richardson 1973
Richard Gordon Kleindienst 1972-1973
John Newton Mitchell 1969-1972
William Ramsey Clark 1967-1969
Nicholas deBelleville Katzenbach 1965-1966
Robert Francis Kennedy 1961-1964
William Pierce Rogers 1957-1961
Herbert Brownell, Jr. 1953-1957
James Patrick McGranery 1952-1953
James Howard McGrath 1949-1952
Thomas Campbell Clark 1945-1949
Francis Beverly Biddle 1941-1945
Robert Houghwout Jackson 1940-1941
Frank Murphy 1939-1940
Homer Stille Cummings 1933-1939
William Dewitt Mitchell 1929-1933
John Garibaldi Sargent 1925-1929
Harlan Fiske Stone 1924-1925
Harry Micajah Daugherty 1921-1924
Alexander Mitchell Palmer 1919-1921
Thomas Watt Gregory 1914-1919
James Clark McReyonds 1913-1914
George Woodward Wichersham 1909-1913
Charles Joseph Bonaparte 1906-1909
William Henry Moody 1904-1906
Philander Chase Knox 1901-1904
John William Griggs 1898-1901
Joseph McKenna 1897-1898
Judson Harmon 1895-1897
Richard Olney 1893-1895
William Henry Harrison Miller 1889-1893
Augustus Hill Garland 1885-1889
Benjamin Harris Brewster 1881-1885
Isaac Wayne MacVeagh 1881
Charles Devens 1877-1881
Alphonso Taft 1876-1877
Edwards Pierrepont 1875-1876
George Henry Williams 1871-1875
Amos Tappan Akerman 1870-1871
Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar 1869-1870
William Maxwell Evarts 1868-1869
Henry Stanbery 1866-1868
James Speed 1864-1866
Edward Bates 1861-1864
Edwin McMasters Stanton 1860-1861
Jeremiah Sullivan Black 1857-1860
Caleb Cushing 1853-1857
John Jordan Crittenden 1850-1853
Reverdy Johnson 1849-1850
Isaac Toucey 1848-1849
Nathan Clifford 1846-1848
John Young Mason 1845-1846
John Nelson 1843-1845
Hugh Swinton Legare 1841-1843
John Jordan Crittenden 1841
Henry Dilworth Gilpin 1840-1841
Felix Grundy 1838-1839
Benjamin Franklin Butler 1833-1838
Roger Brooke Taney 1831-1833
John Macpherson Berrien 1829-1831
William Wirt 1817-1829
Richard Rush 1814-1817
William Pinkney 1811-1814
Caesar Augustus Rodney 1807-1811
John Breckinridge 1805-1806
Levi Lincoln 1801-1805
Charles Lee 1795-1801
William Bradford 1794-1795
Edmund Jennings Randolph 1789-1794

See also

External links