Attorney General Eric Holder Delivers Remarks at the Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates San Francisco ~ Monday, August 12, 2013 at the website of the U.S. Department of Justice.
The following is the text of this speech, minus the opening address to the delegates. This is a public document:
Throughout history, Americans of all backgrounds and walks of life have turned to our legal system to settle disputes, but also to hold accountable those who have done wrong – and even to answer fundamental questions about who we are and who we aspire to be. On issues of slavery and segregation; voting and violence; equal rights and equal justice – generations of principled lawyers have engaged directly in the work of building a more perfect Union. Today, under the leadership of my good friend, President Laurel Bellows, this organization is fighting against budget cuts that undermine the ability of our courts to administer justice. You’re standing with me – and with my colleagues across the Obama Administration – in calling for Congressional action on common-sense measures to prevent and reduce gun violence. And you’re advancing our global fight against the heinous crime of human trafficking.
In so many ways, today’s ABA is reminding us that, although our laws must be continually updated, our shared dedication to the cause of justice – and the ideals set forth by our Constitution – must remain constant. It is this sense of dedication that brings me to San Francisco today – to enlist your partnership in forging a more just society. To ask for your leadership in reclaiming, once more, the values we hold dear. And to draw upon the ABA’s legacy of achievement in calling on every member of our profession to question that which is accepted truth; to challenge that which is unjust; to break free of a tired status quo; and to take bold steps to reform and strengthen America’s criminal justice system – in concrete and fundamental ways.
It’s time – in fact, it’s well past time – to address persistent needs and unwarranted disparities by considering a fundamentally new approach. As a prosecutor; a judge; an attorney in private practice; and now, as our nation’s Attorney General, I’ve seen the criminal justice system firsthand, from nearly every angle. While I have the utmost faith in – and dedication to – America’s legal system, we must face the reality that, as it stands, our system is in too many respects broken. The course we are on is far from sustainable. And it is our time – and our duty – to identify those areas we can improve in order to better advance the cause of justice for all Americans.