About 75 protesters showed up outside the First Church in Oklahoma City, where the ceremony was held. Police Capt. Dexter Nelson said as many as 300 had been expected but many apparently decided to stay home when they learned Holder would not be there.
“I think it was very understood that people could come together using their First Amendment right to assemble and speak, and that’s what we did,” Republican state Rep. Paul Wesselhoft said. “We had a direct impact on the highest law official in America. That’s not small stuff.”
U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange replaced Holder, addressing the class of 42 graduating recruits.
Holder, the first black head of the U.S. Justice Department, is a former U.S. attorney and federal judge. He has become a lightning rod for conservatives because of his support for gay rights and the Obama administration's efforts to reduce prison sentences for some drug offenders.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Holder's associates in the Justice Department say he plans to remain in the administration until after the midterm elections but does not want to stay on the job through President Obama's second term. There had been speculation he would leave before the midterms because confirming a successor would be more difficult if the Republicans win a Senate majority.
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