United States Attorney General

The United States Attorney General (A.G.) is the head of the United States Department of Justice per 28 U.S.C. § 503, concerned with all legal affairs, and is the chief lawyer of the United States government. In cases of the federal death penalty, the power to seek the death penalty rests with the Attorney General.

Under Article II Sec. 2 of the Constitution the Attorney General is nominated by the President and appointed with the advice and consent of Congress. The Constitution is clear that the Attorney General may be impeached by Congress. As to whether the Attorney General may be summarily removed by the President, no provision of the Constitution grants this power. The decisional law suggests that the President has the power to remove an official engaged in purely executive functions or an official whose duties immediately affect the President's ability to fulfill his constitutional responsibilities, (Bowsher v. Synar, 1986), but provides little or no guidance as to whether the office of Attorney General falls within these general guidelines.

Attorney General of
the United States of America
Seal of the United States Department of Justice
Seal of the Department of Justice
Flag of the United States Attorney General
Flag of the Attorney General
Jeff Sessions, official portrait
Incumbent
Jeff Sessions

since February 9, 2017
United States Department of Justice
Style The Honorable (formal)
Mr. Attorney General (informal)
Member of Cabinet
Reports to The President
Seat Washington, D.C.
Appointer The President
with Senate confirmation
Term length No fixed term
Constituting instrument Judiciary Act of 1789
Formation September 26, 1789
First holder Edmund Randolph
Succession Seventh[1]
Deputy Deputy Attorney General
Salary $205,700 annually (Executive Schedule I, Level 1)[2]

History

Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1789 which, besides other things, established the Office of the Attorney General. The original duties of this officer were "to prosecute and conduct all suits in the Supreme Court in which the United States shall be concerned, and to give his or her advice and opinion upon questions of law when required by the President of the United States, or when requested by the heads of any of the departments."[3]

The Department of Justice was established in 1870 to support the Attorney General in the discharge of their responsibilities.

The Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Secretary of Defense are generally regarded as the four most important cabinet officials in the United States because of the importance and age of their respective departments.[4]

Presidential transition

It is the practice for the Attorney General, along with many other public officials, to give resignation with effect on the Inauguration Day (January 20) of a new President. The Deputy Attorney General, who is also required to tender their resignation, is commonly requested to stay on and act as Attorney General pending the confirmation by the Senate of the new Attorney General.

For example, on the inauguration of President Donald Trump on January, 20, 2017, the tenure of the then Attorney General Loretta Lynch was brought to an end, and the Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who had also tendered her resignation, was asked to stay on and be Acting Attorney General until the confirmation of the new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had been nominated for the office in November 2016 by then-President-elect Donald Trump. However, Yates was dismissed by Trump on January 30, 2017[5][6] before Sessions had been confirmed. Dana Boente automatically succeeded Yates as Acting Attorney General as the next available successor in the line of succession. Boente, who was the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia,[7] was the most senior Justice Department official whose resignation had not been accepted by Trump.[8][9] When Sessions was confirmed and sworn in as Attorney General on February 9, 2017, Boente became Acting Deputy Attorney General.[10][11] On March 10, 2017, Sessions oversaw the firing of 46 United States Attorneys, leaving only his acting Deputy Dana Boente and nominated Deputy Rod Rosenstein in place.[12] Rosenstein's appointment was subject to Senate confirmation. Rosenstein was confirmed on April 25, 2017 and became Deputy Attorney General on April 26, 2017, and Boente reverted to his permanent position.

List of Attorneys General

Parties

  No party (1)   Federalist (3)   Democratic-Republican (5)   Democratic (34)   Whig (4)   Republican (38)

Status
No. Portrait Name State of Residence Took office Left office President(s)
1 EdRand Edmund Randolph Virginia September 26, 1789 January 26, 1794 George Washington
2 William Bradford, AG William Bradford Pennsylvania January 27, 1794 August 23, 1795
3 Charles Lee, AG Charles Lee Virginia December 10, 1795 February 19, 1801
John Adams
4 Levi Lincoln, Sr Levi Lincoln Sr. Massachusetts March 5, 1801 March 2, 1805 Thomas Jefferson
5 John Breckinridge John Breckinridge Kentucky August 7, 1805 December 14, 1806
6 Rodneycaesara3 Caesar A. Rodney Delaware January 20, 1807 December 10, 1811
James Madison
7 Williampinkney (1) William Pinkney Maryland December 11, 1811 February 9, 1814
8 Richard Rush engraving Richard Rush Pennsylvania February 10, 1814 November 12, 1817
9 WilliamWirt William Wirt Virginia November 13, 1817 March 4, 1829 James Monroe
John Quincy Adams
10 John Macpherson Berrien John M. Berrien Georgia March 9, 1829 July 19, 1831 Andrew Jackson
11 Roger Taney Roger B. Taney Maryland July 20, 1831 November 14, 1833
12 Benjamin Franklin Butler (1795%E2%80%931858) Benjamin Franklin Butler New York November 15, 1833 July 4, 1838
Martin Van Buren
13 Felix Grundy Felix Grundy Tennessee July 5, 1838 January 10, 1840
14 Henry D. Gilpin, Attorney General of the United States (trimmed) Henry D. Gilpin Pennsylvania January 11, 1840 March 4, 1841
15 John Jordan Crittenden - Brady 1855 John J. Crittenden Kentucky March 5, 1841 September 12, 1841 William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
16 Hugh S. Legar%C3%A9 Hugh S. Legaré South Carolina September 13, 1841 June 20, 1843
17 John Nelson, bw photo portrait, Brady-Handy collection, circa 1855-1865 John Nelson Maryland July 1, 1843 March 4, 1845
18 JYMason John Y. Mason Virginia March 5, 1845 October 16, 1846 James K. Polk
19 NClifford Nathan Clifford Maine October 17, 1846 March 17, 1848
20 Isaac Toucey - Brady-Handy Isaac Toucey Connecticut June 21, 1848 March 4, 1849
21 Reverdy Johnson Reverdy Johnson Maryland March 8, 1849 July 21, 1850 Zachary Taylor
22 John Jordan Crittenden - Brady 1855 John J. Crittenden Kentucky July 22, 1850 March 4, 1853 Millard Fillmore
23 Caleb Cushing Caleb Cushing Massachusetts March 7, 1853 March 4, 1857 Franklin Pierce
24 JSBlack-AG Jeremiah S. Black Pennsylvania March 6, 1857 December 16, 1860 James Buchanan
25 Edwin McMasters Stanton Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton Pennsylvania December 20, 1860 March 4, 1861
26 Edward Bates - Brady-Handy Edward Bates Missouri March 5, 1861 November 24, 1864 Abraham Lincoln
27 James Speed James Speed Kentucky December 2, 1864 July 22, 1866
Andrew Johnson
28 Stanberry-AttorGen Henry Stanbery Ohio July 23, 1866 July 16, 1868
29 William M. Evarts - Brady-Handy William M. Evarts New York July 17, 1868 March 4, 1869
30 EbenezerRHoar Ebenezer R. Hoar Massachusetts March 5, 1869 November 22, 1870 Ulysses S. Grant
31 Amos T Akerman - crop and minor retouch Amos T. Akerman Georgia November 23, 1870 December 13, 1871
32 George Henry Williams - Brady-Handy - Restored %26 Cropped George Henry Williams Oregon December 14, 1871 April 25, 1875
33 Edwards Pierrepont, Brady-Handy bw photo portrait, ca1865-1880 Edwards Pierrepont New York April 26, 1875 May 21, 1876
34 Alphonso Taft seated Alphonso Taft Ohio (born in Vermont) May 22, 1876 March 4, 1877
35 Hon. Charles Devens of Mass. Atty Gen. Hayes Cabinet Charles Devens Massachusetts March 12, 1877 March 4, 1881 Rutherford B. Hayes
36 Wayne MacVeagh - Brady-Handy Wayne MacVeagh Pennsylvania March 5, 1881 December 15, 1881 James A. Garfield
Chester A. Arthur
37 BenjaminHBrewster Benjamin H. Brewster Pennsylvania December 16, 1881 March 4, 1885
38 Augustus Hill Garland - Brady-Handy Augustus H. Garland Arkansas March 6, 1885 March 4, 1889 Grover Cleveland
39 WHHMiller William H. H. Miller Indiana March 7, 1889 March 4, 1893 Benjamin Harrison
40 Richard Olney, Bain bw photo portrait, 1913 Richard Olney Massachusetts March 6, 1893 April 7, 1895 Grover Cleveland
41 Jud Harmon Judson Harmon Ohio April 8, 1895 March 4, 1897
42 AssoJstcJMcK Joseph McKenna California March 5, 1897 January 25, 1898 William McKinley
43 Griggs2 John W. Griggs New Jersey January 25, 1898 March 29, 1901
44 Philander Knox, bw photo portrait, 1904 Philander C. Knox Pennsylvania April 5, 1901 June 30, 1904
Theodore Roosevelt
45 WHMoody William H. Moody Massachusetts July 1, 1904 December 17, 1906
46 CJBonaparte Charles J. Bonaparte Maryland December 17, 1906 March 4, 1909
47 GWWickersham George W. Wickersham New York March 4, 1909 March 4, 1913 William Howard Taft
48 James C. McReynolds - c1913 James C. McReynolds Tennessee March 5, 1913 August 29, 1914 Woodrow Wilson
49 WP Thomas Watt Gregory Thomas Watt Gregory Texas August 29, 1914 March 4, 1919
50 Alexander Mitchell Palmer Alexander Mitchell Palmer Pennsylvania March 5, 1919 March 4, 1921
51 Harry Daugherty, bw photo portrait 1920 Harry M. Daugherty Ohio March 4, 1921 April 6, 1924 Warren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
52 Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone photograph circa 1927-1932 Harlan F. Stone New York April 7, 1924 March 1, 1925
53 John Sargent, Bain bw photo portrait John G. Sargent Vermont March 7, 1925 March 4, 1929
54 William D. Mitchell cph.3b30394 William D. Mitchell Minnesota March 4, 1929 March 4, 1933 Herbert Hoover
55 Homer Cummings, Harris %26 Ewing photo portrait, 1920 Homer Stille Cummings Connecticut March 4, 1933 January 1, 1939 Franklin D. Roosevelt
56 Justice Frank Murphy Frank Murphy Michigan January 2, 1939 January 18, 1940
57 Roberthjackson Robert H. Jackson New York January 18, 1940 August 25, 1941
58 Francis Biddle cph.3b27524 Francis Biddle Pennsylvania August 26, 1941 June 26, 1945
Harry S. Truman
59 Tom C. Clark Tom C. Clark Texas June 27, 1945 July 26, 1949
60 J. Howard McGrath J. Howard McGrath Rhode Island July 27, 1949 April 3, 1952
61 James P McGranery cropped James P. McGranery Pennsylvania April 4, 1952 January 20, 1953
62 Herbert Brownell Herbert Brownell Jr. New York January 21, 1953 October 23, 1957 Dwight D. Eisenhower
63 William P. Rogers, U.S. Secretary of State William P. Rogers Maryland October 23, 1957 January 20, 1961
64 Robert F Kennedy crop Robert F. Kennedy Massachusetts January 20, 1961 September 3, 1964 John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
65 Nicholas Katzenbach at White House, 6 May 1968 Nicholas Katzenbach Illinois September 4, 1964[1] January 28, 1965
January 28, 1965 November 28, 1966
66 Ramsey Clark at the White House, 28 Feb 1968 Ramsey Clark Texas November 28, 1966[1] March 10, 1967
March 10, 1967 January 20, 1969
67 John Mitchell John N. Mitchell New York January 20, 1969 February 15, 1972 Richard Nixon
68 Attorney General Richard Kleindienst Richard Kleindienst Arizona February 15, 1972 May 25, 1973
69 ElliotLeeRichardson Elliot Richardson Massachusetts May 25, 1973 October 20, 1973
Robert Bork Robert Bork[3]
Acting
Pennsylvania October 20, 1973 January 4, 1974
70 WilliamBartSaxbe2 William B. Saxbe Ohio January 4, 1974 January 14, 1975
Gerald Ford
71 Edward H. Levi Illinois January 14, 1975 January 20, 1977
Dick Thornburgh Dick Thornburgh[2]
Acting
Pennsylvania January 20, 1977 January 26, 1977 Jimmy Carter
72 Attorney General Griffin Bell Griffin Bell Georgia January 26, 1977 August 16, 1979
73 Benjamin Civiletti (1979) Benjamin Civiletti Maryland August 16, 1979 January 19, 1981
74 Portrait officiel de William French Smith William French Smith California January 23, 1981 February 25, 1985 Ronald Reagan
75 Portraits of Assistants to President Ronald Reagan (cropped12) Edwin Meese California February 25, 1985 August 12, 1988
76 Dick Thornburgh Dick Thornburgh Pennsylvania August 12, 1988 August 15, 1991
George H. W. Bush
77 William Barr, official photo as Attorney General William P. Barr New York August 16, 1991[1] November 26, 1991
November 26, 1991 January 20, 1993
Stuart M. Gerson[4]
Acting
Washington, D.C. January 20, 1993 March 12, 1993 Bill Clinton
78 Janet Reno-us-Portrait Janet Reno Florida March 12, 1993 January 20, 2001
HolderEric Eric Holder[2]
Acting
Washington, D.C. January 20, 2001 February 2, 2001 George W. Bush
79 John Ashcroft John Ashcroft Missouri February 2, 2001 February 3, 2005
80 Alberto Gonzales - official DoJ photograph Alberto Gonzales Texas February 3, 2005 September 17, 2007
Paul D. Clement Paul Clement[5]
Acting
Washington, D.C. September 17, 2007 September 18, 2007
Peterkeisler Peter Keisler[5]
Acting
Washington, D.C. September 18, 2007 November 9, 2007
81 Michael Mukasey, official AG photo portrait, 2007 Michael Mukasey New York November 9, 2007 January 20, 2009
Mark Filip Mark Filip[6]
Acting
Illinois January 20, 2009 February 3, 2009 Barack Obama
82 Eric Holder official portrait (cropped) Eric Holder Washington, D.C. February 3, 2009 April 27, 2015
83 Loretta Lynch, official portrait (cropped) Loretta Lynch New York April 27, 2015 January 20, 2017
Sally Q. Yates (cropped) Sally Yates
Acting
Georgia January 20, 2017 January 30, 2017 Donald Trump
Dana Boente (cropped) Dana Boente
Acting
Virginia January 30, 2017 February 9, 2017
84 Jeff Sessions, official portrait (cropped) Jeff Sessions Alabama February 9, 2017 Incumbent

Living former U.S. Attorneys General

As of June 2018, there are eleven, living former US Attorneys General, the oldest being Ramsey Clark (served 1967–1969, born 1927). The most recent Attorney General to die was Janet Reno (served 1993–2001, born 1938) on November 7, 2016.

Name Term of office Date of birth (and age)
Ramsey Clark 1967–1969 December 18, 1927 (age 90)
Benjamin Civiletti 1979–1981 July 17, 1935 (age 82)
Edwin Meese 1985–1988 December 2, 1931 (age 86)
Dick Thornburgh 1988–1991 July 16, 1932 (age 85)
William P. Barr 1991–1993 May 23, 1950 (age 68)
John Ashcroft 2001–2005 May 9, 1942 (age 76)
Alberto Gonzales 2005–2007 August 4, 1955 (age 62)
Michael Mukasey 2007–2009 July 28, 1941 (age 76)
Eric Holder 2009–2015 January 21, 1951 (age 67)
Loretta Lynch 2015–2017 May 21, 1959 (age 59)

Line of succession

U.S.C. Title 28, §508 establishes the first two positions in the line of succession, while allowing the Attorney General to designate other high-ranking officers of the Department of Justice as subsequent successors.[13] Furthermore, an Executive Order defines subsequent positions, the most recent from March 31, 2017, signed by President Donald Trump.[14] The current line of succession is:

  1. United States Deputy Attorney General
  2. United States Associate Attorney General
  3. Other Officers potentially designated by the Attorney General (in no particular order):
  4. United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia
  5. United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina
  6. United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas

See also

Notes

  • 5 On August 27, 2007, President Bush named Solicitor General Paul Clement as the future acting attorney general, to take office upon the resignation of Alberto Gonzales, effective September 17, 2007.[20] According to administration officials, Clement took that office at 12:01 am September 17, 2007, and left office 24 hours later.[21] On September 17, President Bush announced that Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ Civil Division Peter Keisler would become acting attorney general, pending a permanent appointment of a presidential nominee.[22][23] Keisler served as acting attorney general until the nomination of Michael Mukasey on November 9, 2007.
  • 6 Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip was asked to assume the position of acting attorney general by then President-elect Obama.[24] Filip led the Department while President Obama's nominee, then Attorney-General Designate Eric Holder, awaited confirmation by the United States Senate.[25][26] Holder was confirmed on February 2, 2009,[27] and sworn in the next day,[28] thus ending Filip's tenure as the acting attorney general.

References

  1. ^ "3 U.S. Code § 19 - Vacancy in offices of both President and Vice President; officers eligible to act".
  2. ^ 5 U.S.C. § 5312.
  3. ^ Judiciary Act of 1789, section 35.
  4. ^ Cabinets and Counselors: The President and the Executive Branch (1997). Congressional Quarterly. p. 87.
  5. ^ Lichtblau, Eric; Apuzzo, Matt; Landler, Mark (January 30, 2017). "Trump Fires Acting Attorney General". The New York Times.
  6. ^ "Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Refuses to Enforce Trump Refugee EO". Lawfare Blog. January 31, 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  7. ^ "Meet the U.S. Attorney: Dana J. Boente". U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved February 1, 2016. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  8. ^ Lichtblau, Eric; Apuzzo, Matt; Landler, Mark (January 30, 2017). "Trump Fires Acting Attorney General". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Refuses to Enforce Trump Refugee EO". Lawfare Blog. January 31, 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  10. ^ Lichtblau, Eric (February 8, 2017). "Jeff Sessions Confirmed as Attorney General, Capping Bitter Battle". The New York Times Company. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  11. ^ "Meet the Acting Deputy Attorney General | DAG | Department of Justice". www.justice.gov. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
  12. ^ Charlie Savage; Maggie Haberman (March 11, 2017). "Trump Abruptly Orders 46 Obama-Era Prosecutors to Resign". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  13. ^ "U.S.C. Title 28 - JUDICIARY AND JUDICIAL PROCEDURE". www.gpo.gov. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  14. ^ "Providing an Order of Succession Within the Department of Justice". Federal Register. 2017-04-05. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  15. ^ Cahoon, Ben (2000). "United States Government". World Statesmen. Retrieved December 12, 2008. January 20, 1993 – March 12, 1993 Stuart M. Gerson (acting) (b. 1944)
  16. ^ a b Staff reporter (February 21, 1993). "Stuart Gerson's Parting Shot". New York Times. Retrieved December 12, 2008. As supporters of the Brady gun-control bill prepare to introduce it in Congress yet again this week, they find a welcome, if unlikely, ally in Stuart Gerson, the Acting Attorney General. Because President Clinton has had so many problems finding a new Attorney General, Mr. Gerson remains in office...
  17. ^ Labaton, Stephen (January 25, 1993). "Notes on Justice; Who's in Charge? Bush Holdover Says He Is, but Two Clinton Men Differ". The New York Times. Retrieved December 12, 2008.
  18. ^ a b Scruggs, Richard; Steven Zipperstein; Robert Lyon; Victor Gonzalez; Herbert Cousins; Roderick Beverly (October 8, 1993). "Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas February 28 to April 19, 1993". Department of Justice. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
  19. ^ a b Ifill, Gwen (March 12, 1993). "Reno Confirmed in Top Justice Job". New York Times. Retrieved December 12, 2008. She will replace Acting Attorney General Stuart M. Gerson, a holdover appointee from the Bush Administration. Ms. Reno said he resigned today.
  20. ^ Meyers, Steven Lee (August 27, 2007). "Embattled Attorney General Resigns". The New York Times. Retrieved August 27, 2007.
  21. ^ Eggen, Dan; Elizabeth Williamson (September 19, 2007). "Democrats May Tie Confirmation to Gonzales Papers". Washington Post. pp. A10. Retrieved September 19, 2007.
  22. ^ "President Bush Announces Judge Michael Mukasey as Nominee for Attorney General", White House press release, September 17, 2007
  23. ^ "Bush Text on Attorney General Nomination". NewsOK.com. The Oklahoman. The Associated Press. September 17, 2007. Retrieved September 18, 2007.
  24. ^ Staff reporter (January 15, 2009). "Obama asks U.S. Attorneys to stay 'for the time being'". CNN Political Ticker. Retrieved January 21, 2009. In addition, Obama's transition team has asked current Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip, also a Bush appointee, to serve as Acting Attorney General replacing outgoing Attorney General Michael Mukasey.)
  25. ^ Staff reporter (January 21, 2009). "Bush Appointees Holding Down the Fort While Obama Nominees Await Confirmation". FOX News. Archived from the original on April 29, 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2009. While Holder waits for his confirmation, Bush appointee Mark Filip is acting attorney general. A former U.S. District Court judge in Illinois, the native Chicagoan holds a law degree from Harvard and was a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. Holder was supposed to have faced a confirmation vote on Wednesday, but scheduling conflicts necessitated a delay in the Senate.
  26. ^ "Acting Attorney General Mark Filip." United States Department of Justice. January 20, 2009. (Archived by WebCite at https://www.webcitation.org/5eJ6TAbgg)
  27. ^ Staff reporter (February 3, 2009). "Obama attorney-general confirmed". BBC News. Retrieved February 3, 2009. President Barack Obama's choice for attorney-general, Eric Holder, has been confirmed in the post by the US Senate.
  28. ^ Staff (n.d.). "USDOJ: Office of the Attorney General". US Department of Justice. Retrieved February 3, 2009. Alberto Gonzales. was sworn in as the 83rd Attorney General of the United States on March 22, 2013 by Vice-President Joe Biden. President Barack Obama announced his intention to nominate Mr. Gonzales on December 1, 2012.

External links

Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
James Mattis
as Secretary of Defense
Order of Precedence of the United States
as Attorney General
Succeeded by
Ryan Zinke
as Secretary of the Interior
Current U.S. presidential line of succession
Preceded by
Secretary of Defense
James Mattis
7th in line Succeeded by
Secretary of the Interior
Ryan Zinke

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