Jeff Sessions, Trumps’ Attorney General Pick, in His Own Words

Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III of Alabama represents the rolling back of civil rights enforcement if not to the days of the poll tax and the voting test, right up to that line. Here follows a resume of outrage:

Civil Rights

From the New Republic, 2002:

In 1984, as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, Sessions unsuccessfully prosecuted three civil rights workers for voter fraud. The three had been working in the “Black Belt” counties of Alabama, which, after years of voting white, had begun to swing toward black candidates as voter registration drives brought in more black voters. Sessions’s focus on these counties to the exclusion of others caused an uproar among civil rights leaders, especially after hours of interrogating black absentee voters produced only 14 allegedly tampered ballots out of more than 1.7 million cast in the state in the 1984 election. The activists, known as the Marion Three, were acquitted in four hours.

And he repeated the effort as attorney general of Alabama, in 1994 investigating alleged voter fraud in heavily black areas. And he declined to seriously investigate black church burnings in the state.

J. Gerald Hebert, testified, that in a conversation Sessions had labeled the NAACP and the ACLU “un-American” and “Communist-inspired.” Hebert said Sessions had claimed these groups “forced civil rights down the throats of people.” In his confirmation hearings, Sessions said such groups could be construed as “un-American” when “they involve themselves in promoting un-American positions” in foreign policy. Hebert [noted] that Sessions called a white civil rights lawyer a “disgrace to his race” for litigating voting rights cases. Sessions further admitted to calling the Voting Rights Act of 1965 a “piece of intrusive legislation,” a phrase he stood behind even in his confirmation hearings. (slight edits)

During a 1981 murder investigation involving the Ku Klux Klan, Sessions was heard by several colleagues commenting that he “used to think they [the Klan] were OK” until he found out some of them were “pot smokers.”

A black former assistant U.S. Attorney in Alabama named Thomas Figures said Sessions had called him “boy” and, after overhearing him chastise a secretary, warned him to “be careful what you say to white folks.” Figures also said he heard Sessions call the National Council of Churches and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, “un-American.”

His voting record in the Senate has earned him consistent “F”s from the NAACP. He supported an ultimately unsuccessful effort to end affirmative action programs in the federal government (a measure so extreme that many conservatives were against it), he opposed hate-crimes laws, and he opposed a motion to investigate the disproportionate number of minorities in juvenile detention centers.

On the Senate judicial committee, Sessions [was] a cheerleader for the Bush administration’s judicial picks, defending such dubious nominees as Charles Pickering, who in 1959 wrote a paper defending Mississippi’s anti-miscegenation law, and Judge Dennis Shedd, who dismissed nearly every fair-employment civil rights case brought before him as a federal district court judge. Sessions called Pickering “a leader for racial harmony” and a “courageous,” “quality individual” who was being used as a “political pawn.” Regarding Shedd, he pooh-poohed the criticism, announcing that the judge “should have been commended for the rulings he has made,” not chastised.

LGBT Rights

The GOP senator is among the most anti-LGBT senators in history, scoring a zero continually from the Human Rights Campaign, voting for everything anti-gay that ever came before the Senate, like a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and against everything remotely pro-gay, from a hate crimes bill to protect gays to the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He’s said it would be “a big concern“ to have a gay Supreme Court nominee and attacked the “activist judiciary” that ruled for marriage equality. He opposed Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court in part based on her support for LGBT equality as dean of Harvard Law School.

HuffPo, 5/5/16

In Congress, Sessions voted for a Constitutional ban on marriage equality; spoke in opposition of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell; voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA); is a cosponsor of the so-called First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), legislation that could allow Kim Davis-style discrimination against LGBTQ people across the nation; voted against both the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation, gender and disability and against repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Sessions also opposed the Voting Rights Act, has voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, opposes immigration reform and has been on the wrong side of every civil rights issue in his long political career. Sessions received a zero on HRC’s congressional scorecard, and the ACLU characterizes his voting record as anti-civil rights.
“It is deeply disturbing that Jeff Sessions, who has such clear animus against so many Americans — including the LGBTQ community, women and people of color — could be charged with running the very system of justice designed to protect them,”said HRC President Chad Griffin. “When Donald Trump was elected, he promised to be a president for all Americans, and it is hugely concerning and telling that he would choose a man so consistently opposed to equality as one of his first — and most important — cabinet appointees.”

Human Rights Campaign, 11/16/16