Attorney General Eric Holder's Legacy08:13
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Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the National Urban League annual conference, Thursday, July 25, 2013, in Philadelphia. The White House has confirmed Holder will resign. (Matt Rourke/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the National Urban League annual conference, Thursday, July 25, 2013, in Philadelphia. The White House has confirmed Holder will resign. (Matt Rourke/AP)

The White House says President Barack Obama will announce Attorney General Eric Holder resignation later today.

NPR's Carrie Johnson first broke the story of Holder's resignation.

Holder is the country's first African-American Attorney General and the fourth-longest serving.

Analysts are saying Holder wants to go out on top, with his recent focus on the issues he cares most deeply about: racial profiling, gay rights and sentencing reform.

But his record and his legacy is decidedly mixed.

Paul Butler, a law professor at Georgetown University, tells Here & Now's Robin Young that on civil rights, Holder receives an "A." But on civil liberties, Holder "needs improvement."

Interview Highlights: Paul Butler

On Holder's record on civil rights

"I don't think there's ever been a stronger advocate for African-Americans and other people who've felt shut out, especially the LGBT community."

"Holder came in strong. One of the first statements he made is to say that 'We are a nation of cowards' on race, and one of the last official acts people will remember him doing is going to Ferguson. He volunteered to go to Ferguson to talk to the community that was literally in flames."

"He brings these cases called patterns and practice, where they are not going after individual officers, but they are looking at whole departments to make sure they are enforcing the law fairly. So you remember the old Jim Crow and how often the Feds would have to come in to enforce school desegregation orders, some people have thought about the criminal justice system now as the new Jim Crow, and we see Eric Holder bringing in the Feds to police that."

On Holder's record on civil liberties

"The civil liberties critiques are valid."

"He did not close Guantanamo, he allowed the National Security Agency to collect records of millions of innocent American citizens, he allowed the CIA to send a drone to kill an American citizen."

On Holder as the President's "point man" on race

"Eric Holder is not an Attorney General who happens to be Black. He is a Black attorney general. So he's spoken about things like being racially profiled, even during the time that he was a prosecutor. His sister in law was one of the first students to integrate a college in the South.

"I think his business was personal for him. I think he wanted to make a difference, and I think he has."

Guest

This segment aired on September 25, 2014.

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