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Holder Says It's 'Long Past Time' for D.C. Voting Rights

Holder says there's more work to be done on behalf of voting rights in D.C. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A day after announcing his exit , Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. paid lip service to voting rights for residents of the District of Columbia.  

Holder, who previously served as a D.C. Superior Court judge and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, said the Justice Department would continue fighting "until all Americans have equal access to the ballot box," during a speech to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.  

"And when I talk about all who want to be heard in the halls of the federal government, I am including the more than 600,000 taxpayers, who, like me — like me, live in the District of Columbia and still have no voting representation in Congress," Holder said Friday.  

"We pay our taxes, we die in the Army, we have a great representative, and we do not have voting rights," he continued. "It is long past time for every citizen to be afforded his or her full responsibilities as well as our full rights."  

Holder did not outline any specific actions he would take on behalf of D.C. as he waits for a successor to be confirmed, but the line drew a big round of applause.  

During the speech, the nation's first black attorney general reminisced about his earliest encounter with the CBC. Holder said he attended a caucus dinner with his aunt when he was a young lawyer "during my first days here in Washington, D.C."  

The New York City native moved to the District after graduating from Columbia Law School in 1976. He was assigned to the newly formed Public Integrity Section. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan nominated Holder to become an associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Five years later, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., recommended him to the Clinton administration to serve as the District's top attorney.  

Norton was among the Democrats congratulating Holder on six years of "outstanding work," saying D.C. residents were especially proud of his tenure.  

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