This article originally appeared on watchdog.org.
âWith Eric Holderâs departure, the nation can begin to heal.â
Shapiro, senior fellow in Constitutional Studies at the libertarianÂ Cato Institute, labels Holderâs nearly six years at the post the âmost divisive tenure of any attorney generalâ that he can recall, with Holder âtearing the country apart on racial and partisan lines.â
âFrom politicizing Justice Department hiring beyond the wildest accusations against the Bush administration, to running a bizarre guns-to-gangs operation that evenÂ Alberto GonzalesÂ couldnât have concocted, to advocating a racial spoils system at all levels of government, Holder has tarnished the nationâs highest law enforcement office more even than Nixonâs AGÂ John Mitchell,âÂ Shapiro wrote in a column published Thursday.
Eric Himpton Holder Jr.Â held a lot of firsts in prosecution. In 1997, serving as U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., Holder was nominated by President Bill Clinton and unanimously confirmed in the U.S. Senate as the first black deputy attorney general.
Holder made history again when his long-time pal, PresidentÂ Barack Obama, tapped him to become the first black U.S. attorney general.
There is history, and then there is legacy, and Holder, who will become the third longest AG in U.S. history if he still is in the position come December, leaves a contentious legacy, marked, many say, by prosecutorial overreach and abuse of U.S. Justice Department power.
Shapiro, perhaps one of Holderâs harshest critics, asserts the only difference between Obamaâs AG and Nixonâs is AG is that âHolder hasnât gone to jail.â Although Shapiro, in his piercing column, suggests the âDOJ Inspector General better lock down computer systems lest Holderâs electronic files âdisappear.ââ
âI donât think he saw his goal as defending the Constitution. His goal was going around the Constitution to support whatever policy the administration wanted âŠ This has all been an exercise in how much we can get away with,â Shapiro told Watchdog.org.
Holderâs greatest government overreach hits started early.
The new attorney general in 2009 pushed the constitutionally doomed D.C. voting rights bill, which would have given the District a vote in the House of Representatives for the first time. As the Washington Post reported at the time, Justice Department lawyers concluded in an unpublished opinion the bill was unconstitutional. But Holder âordered up a second opinion from other lawyers in his department and determined that the legislation would pass muster.â
And who could forget the debacle that wasÂ âFast and Furious.â TheÂ Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and ExplosivesÂ operation put weapons from the U.S. into the hands of alleged gun smugglers. The idea was to trace arms to Mexican drug kingpins. Fail. The agency, as theÂ Los Angeles Times has detailed,Â has lost hundreds of firearms that were later linked to crimes. Among the victims, Border Patrol AgentÂ Brian Terry,Â shot dead by one of the lost weapons in December 2010.
The GOP-ledÂ House found Holder in contempt of CongressÂ after he refused to hand over documents related to the botched sting, marking the first time an attorney general was held in contempt.
Beyond Fast and Furious, some of the most stinging criticism against the first black attorney general is how racially divisive his agencyâs investigations and initiatives have been.
The attorney general in aÂ 2009 Black History Month speechÂ called his country a ânation of cowardsâ for what Holder saw as the failure to talk about racial tension. And recently, the attorney general insinuated himself â to cheers and jeers â into the racial tension ofÂ Ferguson, Mo.,Â launching a Justice Department investigation into an incident involving a white officer fatally shooting an unarmed young black man.
âAnd this time, the White House dispatched Holder to speak his piece, in effect jump-starting that conversation and helping to settle nerves in the frayed community,âNational Public RadioÂ wrote Thursday.
Shapiro said Holderâs legacy will be particularly marred by his âracialist view of the world.â
âLike a modern-day George Wallace, Holder has called for racial preference now, racial preferencesÂ tomorrow, racial preferences forever,â the constitutional expert wrote. âAccording to our outgoing attorney general, and the 14th Amendment, Civil Rights Act, and Voting Rights Act only protect some citizens (members of the right kinds of racial minority groups) â and should be used to extract political and financial concessions for them.â
Earlier this year aÂ federal court shot downÂ the Justice Departmentâs campaign to kill Louisianaâs school choice program.
The judge denied the DOJâs quest to be able to individually deny vouchers, mainly to impoverished minority students stuck in Louisianaâs failing public schools.
And in Wisconsin, theÂ Justice Department has launched a nebulous âongoingâ investigationÂ into the stateâs successful and nationally leading School Choice program. That investigation, sources tell Watchdog, continues, although the Justice Department has failed to return several calls seeking comment.
The songs of praise for Eric Holder already are rolling in on the left. The New York Times called the attorney general the âmost prominent liberal voice of the administration, leading its push for same-sex marriage and voting rights.â
He pushed that left-leaning agenda, however, while shaking a clinched fist at the Constitution, critics say.
âAttorney General Holder has done his all to expand federal (especially executive) power and contract individual liberty beyond any constitutional recognition,â Shapiro said.
âEric Holder will not be missed by those who support the rule of law.â