Attorney General Emphasizes Value of Public Service

U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. ’76 encourages Columbia Law School graduates to stay true to the values they acquired in law school and discusses of-the-moment legal issues with Judge Gerard E. Lynch ’75

Fall 2011

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Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. ’76 addressed a lecture hall filled with Law School alumni at an event that represented a highlight of the Reunion 2011 weekend. Holder, a recent recipient of the Law School’s highest honor, the Medal for Excellence, discussed his role in government during the session, which was moderated by Professor Gerard E. Lynch ’75, who serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

In celebrating the 35th anniversary of his graduation from Columbia Law School, Holder recalled sitting in a classroom similar to the auditorium in which he was speaking and hearing about what his future would be like as a lawyer.

“I think about this place more and more, and what this Law School has meant to me, the values that it instilled in me, and the responsibility that I think I have, not only as attorney general, but for the rest of my life,” he said. “That’s something that I hope you share: That no matter how old you are, no matter where you are in your careers, that we will stay true to the things [we learned] in this building; this notion of service, of responsibility, of trying to make this world better.”

Holder sat down with Lynch to talk about the pressing issues that have been in the news during his time as attorney general, including the Defense of Marriage Act, immigration, and voter fraud. The attorney general also discussed how those in his office have worked with the Mexican government to fight drug cartels.

During their conversation, Lynch and Holder talked at length about the initial decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, an alleged member of Al Qaeda accused of planning the 9/11 attacks, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and the subsequent reversal of that decision.

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