March 13th, 2009
02:34 PM ET
3 years ago

Top Justice jobs filled as Holder swears in 'right arm' and 'left arm'

Large holes in the Obama administration were filled Friday as Attorney General Eric Holder personally swore in his new deputy attorney general and associate attorney general.
Large holes in the Obama administration were filled Friday as Attorney General Eric Holder personally swore in his new deputy attorney general and associate attorney general.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Large holes in the Obama administration were filled Friday as Attorney General Eric Holder personally swore in his new deputy attorney general and associate attorney general, who had been confirmed by the Senate one day earlier.

The powerful second- and third-ranking Justice Department posts had been temporarily filled by career officials while Republican senators slowed the confirmation of David Ogden and Thomas Perrelli over questions about pornography and the right to die.

"You don't know how good this feels. I now have a right arm and a left arm," Holder told a crowd gathered for the swearing-in ceremony in Holder's office.

The swearing-in represented a reunion of Clinton administration lawyers. All three men had been top subordinates of then-Attorney General Janet Reno who had an often strained relationship with the White House over Justice Department-backed investigations of the president and Hillary Clinton and other administration officials.

Twenty-seven GOP senators had opposed Ogden's nomination for the deputy's job for his views on pornography and other divisive issues. Among Democrats, only Sen. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania had opposed the nomination.

Ogden had vowed at his confirmation hearings to vigorously enforce pornography laws and child protection laws despite his staunch advocacy of free speech rights for pornographers in his legal representation of their industry.

Perrelli drew opposition from 20 GOP senators in the floor vote Thursday. Much of the concern stemmed from Perrelli's representation of the husband of Terri Schiavo, who fought to have her removed from a life-support system after she had spent years in what courts deemed was a "persistent vegetative state."

On Friday, Ogden sought to put the partisanship "of this recent period" in the past, saying Americans have a "great common interest as brothers and sisters" in preserving the rule of law.

In a moment that brought roars of laughter, Ogden recalled that a young man who once worked for his Greek immigrant grandfather in a New York candy store - and quit after only one day - turned out to be none other than Tom Perrelli.

"I hope to make it longer here," Perrelli replied.

Holder told the crowd it is "time to get to work," and took a parting shot at the recently departed Bush administration.

"There's an awful lot of work that we have to do," he said." There are things, quite frankly, that we have to reverse, policy changes that we have to make, and I am very happy to be surrounded by these two great lawyers."


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Eric Holder
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. are his arms cowards?

    'cause we don't want them sworn in if they are cowards

    March 13, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  2. sickofitall

    "All three men had been top subordinates of then-Attorney General Janet Reno who had an often strained relationship with the White House over Justice Department-backed investigations of the president and Hillary Clinton and other administration officials. "

    AHHH, the smell of CHANGE is in the air.

    March 13, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  3. Baze

    I wonder if he'll be hanging out with his white arms on the weekend?

    March 13, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  4. New Yorker

    Ogden provides legal representation for pornographers and Perrelli represents the man who insisted his wife's life be terminated even though her parents would have provided care for her. What's wrong with this picture America? These are the type of people(?) Obama wants in his administration. 4 years of this is too much. There will be irreparable damage.

    March 13, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  5. lovable liberal

    Twenty Republican Senators still – still! – want to have kept Terri Schiavo's hollow shell of a body hooked up to machines. Half of them. Sheesh. Can't they learn even one thing from experience?

    March 13, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  6. Mike

    deputy attorney general ??? a.s.sociate attorney general??? Huh??? lots of jobs in the government, I guess... how about an as.sociate deputy attorney major general . . .I wanna see THAT job description ! ! !

    March 13, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  7. B

    yeah you folks got a good one with odgen. He filed a lawsuit to force taxpayers to make playboy and other porno magazines go brail. He also filed lawsuit to allow anyone to access porno at public libraries. He's more scum and you can find out more about him if you research this man that thinks it should be legal to allow minors to perform in porno films. Thanks again for change obama.

    March 13, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. Willy Brown

    People are figuring out #44 and don't want to serve on a board for an empty suit.

    March 13, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  9. Stan Pitak

    Is it just me or is there something really, really creepy about these three guys?

    March 13, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |