Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks at the Swearing In of Edward H. Levi as Attorney General of the United States.

February 07, 1975

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Justice Powell, Acting Attorney General Silberman-your tenure is rather short, Larry--Attorney General-designate Ed Levi, Mrs. Levi, employees of the Department of Justice:

It is really a great occasion for me to come to the Department of Justice and participate in this wonderful ceremony in the Great Hall of the Department of Justice. And before making a comment or two about our new Attorney General, let me say that I am deeply grateful to the people of the Department of Justice who, in a period of great difficulty, turbulence, and problems of unusual significance--all of you have done a fine job. And on behalf of 213 million other Americans, let me express my gratitude for them as well as for myself.

I do want to say also a word of appreciation to Bill Saxbe, who became the Attorney General at a very difficult time. I knew Bill Saxbe as a Member of the Congress. I knew him when he was attorney general for the State of Ohio. And I wish to compliment Bill on the job that he did, again, during a period of great difficulty.

Obviously, he has new and difficult chores, but they are equally important, representing our country/in another land almost halfway around the world, a country of some 600 million people, a vitally important country, not only in that part of the world but elsewhere.

And, Bill, I am sure that I can speak for all of you in this Great Hall and all that worked with you in wishing you the very, very best on this new mission.1

1 William B. Saxbe was sworrn in as U.S. Ambassador to India on February 3, 1975.

I was reviewing with the new Attorney General some of his past activities. And all of a sudden it occurred to me that although he had gone to the University of Chicago as an undergraduate and gotten his legal degree from the University of Chicago Law School, he and I appeared in New Haven in the fall of 1935.

He came with a much more distinguished record, as a graduate of the University of Chicago and its law school, and I came to Yale as a graduate of the University of Michigan with a job as an assistant football coach.

I struggled for a couple of years to try and convince the Yale Law School that they should admit me and struggled with the department of athletics to convince me that I could do both. All of the time, Ed, of course, was adding to his illustrious career as a legal scholar .

He went on to great achievements in the legal profession, the Department of Justice, as, subsequently, the dean of the University of Chicago Law School, and finally as the president of a great educational institution, the University of Chicago.

I struggled and finally got through law school. And it is, I think, a wonderful experience for me to have the privilege, on this fine morning, to participate in a ceremony where the next Attorney General will be sworn in to a very important job in this country, a responsibility of carrying out with conviction and dedication, integrity, the laws [the United States, protecting the rights of individuals, protecting the rights of the Government, and making the Department the great Department that it has been and must be if all of our citizens are to have faith in the laws of our land.

So, it is a privilege for me to join with you in participation in this ceremony of a man who has earned the honor of being the Attorney General of the United States, participating in a ceremony for .a person who will make certain that all of our fellow citizens believe this Government when laws are interpreted, when laws are carried out. And this faith is vitally important for our country at this very troubled time.

And so, Ed, I congratulate you. I could not help but notice that you were immensely successful in your confirmation proceedings. You did much better than I. I spent about 5 days before a Senate committee and did not get unanimous support. You spent about a day before a Senate committee and were whisked through the Senate Chamber without a recorded vote.

I compliment you, but it is a compliment to you that the Senate of the United States has such faith in you, as your associates in the Department of Justice will, as I do, as President of the United States.

So, it is a privilege for me to ask the Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Justice Powell, to administer the oath. And Justice Powell, of course, in his own right, is a man of great legal stature, former president of the American Bar Association, a man with a renowned reputation in the private practice.

And so now, I ask Justice Powell if he will administer the oath of office to our new Attorney General, Ed Levi.

Note: The President spoke at 11:05 a.m. in the Great Hall at the Department of Justice. Attorney General Levi's response to the President's remarks is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 11, p. 164).

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks at the Swearing In of Edward H. Levi as Attorney General of the United States. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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