Holder Promotes From Within For New Head Of DOJ’s Civil Division

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The attorney general promotes Ben Mizer to Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division. A high-profile role for an out gay appointee.

Courtesy of Department of Justice

Ben Mizer, the former Ohio solicitor general, will be the next head of the Justice Department’s civil division, according to sources at the Department of Justice with knowledge of the decision.

Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to make the formal announcement of Mizer’s appointment — Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division — on Monday afternoon. In a release set to be sent to reporters, Holder praised Mizer, a political appointee who first joined the Justice Department in 2011, for his service as a top adviser to the attorney general on civil litigation and other areas.

“Ben’s work here in Washington and as Solicitor General for the state of Ohio has put him in some of the most challenging and demanding positions a lawyer can encounter. But in every instance, Ben has repeatedly demonstrated that he is both a gifted lawyer and a capable leader. I am confident that his stewardship of the Civil Division will build on the exceptional record he has already established — and reflect the high ideals that have animated him from the very beginning of his career,” Holder said in the statement.

Mizer, 38, is one of more than a dozen out gay lawyers Holder and the Obama administration have appointed to senior positions at the Department of Justice, according to The Victory Fund. Mizer worked first in the Office of Legal Counsel when coming to the Justice Department in 2011 and has served as a senior adviser to Holder for the past several months. Among his other roles prior to his work in Ohio, Mizer served as a clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The current head of the Civil Division, Joyce Branda, will return to her previous job as the head of Commercial Litigation for the Justice Department. The prior head of the Civil Division, Stuart Delery, was promoted to DOJ’s third-ranking lawyer, Acting Associate Attorney General, in September 2014. In January, Obama nominated Delery for the role.

The latest shuffle comes as the Senate is expected to confirm Holder’s successor, Loretta Lynch, marking the end to Holder’s six-year tenure, the third-longest by an attorney general.

Attorney General Eric Holder visits with the Justice Department Civil Rights Dvision’s Voting Rights Section on Election Day 2014. Ben Mizer, an adviser to Holder, stands to his left.

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