Attorney General Eric Holder addresses the media at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana on June 28, 2012, in New Orleans 
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to publicly announce his resignation on Thursday, following his highly controversial five-and-a-half-year stint in the position, NPR reports.

Two sources confirmed that Holder, who is the first black U.S. attorney general, will step down from leading the Justice Department the minute his replacement is confirmed. However, that process could run through the remainder of this year and into the next, NPR notes.

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NPR also reported that a government official said the move was in part because of Holder’s fear that he could be locked into staying in the position for most of the president’s final term. He is already one of the longest-serving members of the Obama Cabinet, NPR notes.

Several civil rights advances, along with seeming setbacks, have marked Holder’s tenure. His forceful push for the civil rights of inmates and former inmates—such as his work in re-establishing ex-convicts’ right to vote and pursuing clemency for nonviolent offenders serving excessively long sentences—as well as his work to advance marriage equality have defined the Justice Department.

However, there have also been crises that his DOJ has faced, most recently the killing of unarmed Ferguson, Mo., teen Michael Brown, which sparked tensions nationwide in addition to sometimes violent unrest in the Missouri town. 

According to NPR, sources said that the decision to leave was made solely by Holder, who discussed the matter with Obama before it was finalized over Labor Day weekend. The same sources added that the top choice to replace him at this point is Solicitor General Don Verrilli.

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As for what Holder plans to do after retiring from one of the top legal positions in the nation, some are speculating that he might return to law firm Covington & Burling, where he practiced law before making his way up the federal ranks. But there has also been some talk of him donating his papers to a Washington, D.C., or New York university and starting a civil rights center, according to NPR.

Holder’s decision comes mere weeks after Associate Attorney General Tony West’s resignation, making Holder the second high-ranking black official to leave the department. West, 49, who was the third-ranking official at the Justice Department, was instrumental in the DOJ’s push to seek out multibillion-dollar penalties against big banks for financial fraud, the Washington Post notes. 

Get reaction to the Holder resignation here.

Read more at NPR and the Washington Post.