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Remarks on the Swearing-In of Attorney General Janet Reno

March 12, 1993

Thank you very much. Please be seated. We are honored here in the White House to be joined today by distinguished Members of the Senate and the House: Senator Biden, Senator Hatch, Senator Kennedy, Senator Sarbanes, one of Janet Reno's Senators, Senator Connie Mack. Senator Graham called me last night. He's in Florida today with the First Lady at a health care hearing. And he said he had an excused absence from the Attorney General. [Laughter]

The Speaker and Congressman Edwards are here, and we're delighted to see all of them. I also would say we're delighted to be joined by Mr. Justice White and Mrs. White. Thank you very much for coming. Let me say that it is a great honor for me to be able to be here at this ceremony today with Janet Reno, her family, and a few of her many friends.

I'd like to say a special word of thanks to Stuart Gerson, who has served ably and honorably as Acting Attorney General since the Inauguration. I think we owe him a round of applause. [Applause]

Somehow I don't think any of my other proposals will pass the Senate by the same vote margin— [laughter] —that Janet's confirmation did. I especially want to thank Senator Biden and Senator Hatch and the members of the Judiciary Committee for waiving the normal waiting period between hearings and the confirmation vote, making this event possible today and making it possible for us to proceed immediately with the urgent tasks at hand.

But more than anything else, I think it is clear that Janet Reno made her own swift confirmation possible, showing the Senate and all who followed the hearings the qualities of leadership and integrity, intelligence, and humanity that those gathered in this room have recognized for a very long time.

You shared with us the life-shaping stories of your family and career that formed your deep sense of fairness and your unwavering drive to help others to do better. You showed us that your career in public service, working on the front lines in your community, fighting crime, understanding the impact on victims and on neighborhoods, mending the gritty social fabric of a vibrant but troubled urban area, is excellent preparation for carrying forward the banner of justice for all the American people.

You'll help to guide the Federal Government to assist State and local law enforcement in ways that really count. You demonstrated that you will be a formidable advocate for the vulnerable people in our society and especially for our children.

Most of all, you proved to the Nation that you are a strong and an independent person who will give me your best legal judgment whether or not it's what I want to hear. [Laughter] It's an experience I've already had, I'm glad to say. That is the condition upon which you accepted my nomination and the only kind of Attorney General that I would want serving in this Cabinet.

As Janet Reno begins her work at the Justice Department, she will enter a building that symbolizes our Nation's commitment to justice, to equality, to the enforcement of our laws. On the side of that building, carved above one of the portals, is the inscription, "The halls of justice are a hallowed place." With Janet Reno serving as our Nation's Attorney General, those words will have great meaning for all Americans.

NOTE: The President spoke at 9:21 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. Following the President's remarks, Justice Byron White administered the oath of office.

William J. Clinton, Remarks on the Swearing-In of Attorney General Janet Reno Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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