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."