By a wide margin, the Senate tonight confirmed Eric Holder Jr. as the 82nd attorney general of the United States.
Holder, 58, is the first African American to serve as the nation’s chief law enforcer. He will be sworn in Tuesday morning by Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. in a ceremony at the Justice Department.
The former federal prosecutor, judge, U.S. attorney, and No. 2 Justice Department official bucked early predictions that his involvement in controversial Clinton-era pardons would hobble his nomination. He was confirmed by a vote of 75 to 21.
The lopsided vote is a clear signal of congressional goodwill towards Holder, and he’ll need it as the Justice Department confronts detention and interrogation policy, the closure of the Guantánamo Bay prison, and a range of litigation that will test the boundaries of executive power in the Obama administration.
With Holder confirmed, the Senate Judiciary Committee can now begin to vet his deputies, beginning with Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr’s David Ogden, the nominee for the Justice Department’s No. 2 spot. His confirmation hearing is scheduled to begin on Thursday.
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