12 Reasons The Senate Shouldn't Vote To Confirm Jeff Sessions

If he is successfully confirmed, our nation’s values and laws will be irrevocably harmed.
01/10/2017 12:23 am ET Updated Jan 11, 2017
AP / John Bazemore

The confirmation hearing for Senator Jeff Sessions, President-Elect Trump’s nominee for Attorney-General, is scheduled to begin today. The GOP seems to be gearing up to do everything in its power to ram him through, and the Democrats are themselves preparing for a bitter battle.

When you call your Senators to advise them of your own opinion on the matter, here are a dozen points you can use.

1. The Senate has already denied him confirmation to a presidential appointment once before, based on allegations of racism and bigotry.

And since then, Sessions’ record has only gotten worse. This should be an easy call.

2. He called a black assistant US Attorney “boy” and told him to “be careful what you say to white folks.”

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3. He agreed that a white civil rights lawyer was a “disgrace to his race.”

Funny, I always thought racists were a disgrace to the white race.

4. He called the NAACP and ACLU “un-American.”

No matter your opinion on those two organizations’ politics, “un-American” is not an epithet that should ever be used against a legitimate and well-regarded advocacy organization—especially not by the man who is expected to face that organization in court. Imagine if the Democrats nominated an Attorney-General who called pro-life activists “bad Americans.”

5. He voted against the Violence Against Women Act because, in part, it applied to undocumented women who have been victims of domestic abuse.

It’s only wrong to beat a woman with papers, apparently.

6. He voted against extending employment nondiscrimination laws to protect lesbian and gay workers, against integrating LGBT people into the military, and in favor of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

He has a 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign.

7. He supported the disgraced Justice who defied a federal court order enforcing the separation of church and state.

The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore, installed a monument to the Ten Commandments in a state judicial building. He was forcibly removed from office by the state’s judicial ethics court for “willfully and publicly def[ying] the orders of a United States district court” and insisting that, given the same situation, he would do it again. (In fact, he did do it again, just last year. After being reelected in 2012, Roy Moore defied another federal court order—this time the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage—and was removed from office once more.)

Sessions introduced a bill in the Senate supporting Moore’s unconstitutional crusade. Now, he wants to be the chief enforcer of the Constitution and of federal court rulings.

8. After Donald Trump advocated banning Muslim immigrants, Sessions voted against a Senate resolution reasserting the unconstitutionality of religious tests.

He was one of only four senators who did so.

“There is no constitutional right to come to America if you possess an ideology that is dangerous,” he said, reinforcing his common assertion that the religion of Islam is “a toxic ideology.”

I wonder how he would feel about a rogue Muslim judge displaying the Quran in his courtroom and ignoring federal court orders to remove it.

9. He said that “grab[bing women] by the pussy” does not necessarily constitute a sexual assault.

“I don’t know. It’s not clear that he — how that would occur,” said the man who might be responsible for reducing sexual assault on campuses.

10. He voted against the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act because “today I am not sure women or people with different sexual orientations face that kind of discrimination. I just don’t see it.”

11. He said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and he advocates enforcing the federal ban on marijuana even in states that have voted for medical or recreational legalization.

And as Attorney-General, he will have that power.

12. He has been consistently antagonistic toward minority voting rights.

If you ask me, this is the biggest one.

As a federal prosecutor, Sessions went after Albert Turner, described by the National Legal Director of the ACLU as “a civil rights icon who worked for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, marched with John Lewis across the bridge at Selma, and earned the nickname ‘Mr. Voter Registration’ for registering black voters after Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1964.”

Sessions ignored allegations of voter fraud among white officials and in majority white counties, focusing instead on Perry County, Alabama, where, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, “the FBI went to the doors of hundreds of black citizens, flashing their badges, asking how they had voted, whether they had received help from black civil-rights activists, whether they could read and write, and why they had voted absentee.”

Sessions’ prosecution of Mr. Voter Registration and his colleagues was rejected by both judge and jury—the former dismissed over fifty charges before trial, and the latter found the defendants not guilty after fewer than three hours of deliberation.

Since then, Sessions doesn’t seem to have changed his opinion of the large scale mobilization of African-American voters—an interest he would be expected to represent as Attorney-General. In 2013, he told the press that the gutting of the Voting Rights Act was “good, I think, for the South.”

In the dangerous and not-so-fun parlor game of “Which Trump Appointee Is Most Terrifying,” Jeff Sessions is my pick.

If he is successfully confirmed, our nation’s values and laws will be irrevocably harmed.

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