At a Glance
- Career History: Partner at Covington & Burling LLP (July 2001 to December 2008); Deputy Attorney General of the United States (1997 to 2001); United States Attorney for the District of Columbia (1993 to 1997); Associate Judge of the District of Columbia Superior Court (1988 to 1993)
- Birthday: January 21, 1951
- Hometown: New York, N.Y.
- Alma Mater: Columbia College, B.A., 1973; Columbia College, J.D., 1976
- Spouse: Sharon Denise Malone
- Web site
Path to Power
Holder was raised in Elmhurst, Queens, by his father, a real-estate agent who emigrated from Barbados, and his mother, a secretary for his parish priest. He earned a degree in American history from Columbia University and later received his law degree from Columbia as well, clerking for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund while in school.
Directly out of law school, Holder got a job in the Justice Department, where he stayed for the next 12 years. He was assigned to the Department's Public Integrity unit, an elite group that prosecutes corrupt public servants. He played an integral role in the convictions of Gov. Arch Moore (R-W.Va.) and Rep. John W. Jenrette (D-S.C.), and he was considered a rising star in the department.
Holder described his judicial philosophy to Ebony magazine in 1994: "You have to be held accountable," he said. "You have to be responsible for your acts. You can't make excuses for the things that you do. And you have to expect that if you do negative things, there are going to be negative consequences for it." He has applied that philosophy not just to the politicians he investigated during his first 12 years at the Justice Department, but also to juveniles in his courtroom and police officers in his community.
During his seven-plus years working as a U.S. attorney and deputy attorney general, Holder developed a reputation as a reformer.
Though he worked in the Clinton administration, Holder did not think twice about abandoning Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and joining Barack Obama's presidential campaign in its early stages. "My inclination would be to support Sen. Clinton, but I was overwhelmed by Barack," Holder said.
Holder worked closely with Caroline Kennedy during Obama's vice presidential vetting process. His wife, Sharon Malone, delivered White House chief of staff-designate Rahm Emanuel's baby.