U.S. News

U.S. Attorney General Holder: 'No letting up' on civil rights

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One day after announcing plans to step down, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder vowed to continue pressing civil rights issues during the rest of his term, including efforts to overturn laws in some states that he has argued create obstacles to voting by some blacks and Latinos.

“I want you to know that my commitment to this work ... will never waver ... I have no intention of letting up, I have no intention of slowing down,” he told a Congressional Black Caucus conference on Friday.

Civil rights advocates have expressed fears his exit leaves a hard-to-fill hole in President Barack Obama’s team when it comes to events such as the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, and challenges to laws in states requiring voters to show photo identification.

Holder has said he plans to stay on the job until a successor, as yet unnamed, is confirmed by the Senate.

In his speech, Holder also backed efforts to secure full congressional representation for District of Columbia residents, of which he is one, and linked it to his broader efforts on voting rights.

Last week a U.S. Senate committee considered statehood for the District of Columbia, the first hearing on the matter by Congress in two decades, but there is practically no chance for the U.S. capital to become the 51st state.

Holder also announced new efforts to reduce the number of juveniles who enter the criminal justice system, and said the Justice Department will provide funding to help Georgia, Hawaii and Kentucky implement programs to provide alternatives.

Reporting by Aruna Viswanatha; Editing by Steve Orlofsky