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As Opposition Mounts, Hearings Begin Next Week on AG Nomination of Sessions

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Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General of the United States.  Today, the Alabama NAACP is holding protests around the state to protest the nomination (via press release):

Alabamians Against Sessions for Attorney General will include five protests at the five Alabama offices of Sessions, located in Mobile, Huntsville, Dothan, Birmingham, and Montgomery.

“As a matter of conscience and conviction, we can neither be mute nor mumble our opposition to Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions becoming Attorney General of the United States. Senator Sessions has callously ignored the reality of voter suppression but zealously prosecuted innocent civil rights leaders on trumped-up charges of voter fraud. As an opponent of the vote, he can’t be trusted to be the chief law enforcement officer for voting rights,” said NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks.

From one of the protests:

AV has stated its unequivocal opposition, as Frank Sharry made clear:

“America needs an Attorney General that will defend all Americans. From his record, it is clear that immigrants, minorities and LGBTQ Americans cannot count on Sessions to defend their rights. Senate Democrats and sensible Republicans have an opportunity to take a stand for an America that is multi-ethnic in composition and committed to equal protection under the law for all of us. And that means making sure that Jeff Sessions is denied the critically important job of Attorney General of the United States. We will be watching closely and fighting fiercely to see that the Senate does not go easy on a colleague when so much is at stake.“

With the nomination approaching, Sessions’ record is being examined in-depth, as it should. In an article titled, Trump’s pick for attorney general is shadowed by race and history, the Washington Post examined how Sessions brought a voter fraud case against black civil rights activists, which he lost, “The case and allegations of racial insensitivity figured prominently at a Senate hearing a year later at which Sessions’s nomination to be a federal judge was defeated by a vote of the Judiciary Committee.”

As one of the witnesses, J. Gerald Hebert,  who testified against Session in 1986 noted in a recent Washington Post op-ed that Sessions hasn’t changed much since then:

The comments I heard him make are three decades old, but his consistent policy positions over the years speak volumes. He falsely charged three African American civil rights activists in Alabama, including a longtime adviser to Martin Luther King Jr., with 29 counts of mail fraud, altering absentee ballots and attempting to vote multiple times. The evidence showed that these activists were simply helping elderly African American voters complete mail-in ballots. All were acquitted of every charge.

In the decades since, Sessions has promoted the myth of voter-impersonation fraud, despite overwhelming evidence that it is exceedingly rare. At the same time, he has ignored the racial impact of voting restrictions, which have a well-documented negative effect on minority communities, the impoverished and the elderly. He has disagreed that people are sometimes denied the right to vote, and in the wake of Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, he proclaimed victory. Sessions asserted that “Shelby County has never had a history of denying voters” — willfully discounting the Alabama county’s recent history of discriminatory voting changes.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has developed strict standards of scrutiny for nominees – standards that Sessions himself imposed while serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee. So, it’s astounding that Sessions has failed to provide a full record to the committee:

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is withholding decades’ worth of records from his career ahead of his Senate confirmation hearings early next month, according to an exhaustive report issued Friday by progressive advocacy groups.

The groups, which include Alliance for Justice and People for the American Way, reviewed the questionnaire that Sessions filled out for the Senate Judiciary Committee ― it requires complete documentation of employment history, published writings, interviews and speeches, among other things ― and found “astonishingly deficient” responses. He left out major details from his years as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, from 1981 to 1993; as attorney general of Alabama, from 1995 to 1997; and as a first-term U.S. senator, from 1997 to 2002.

The gaps encompass the time, for example, when Sessions was nominated to be a federal judge in 1986 ― and then rejected after being deemed too racist.

That’s quite an omission.

And, for anyone who claims this was all 30 years ago, we’ve watched Sessions over the year as he’s been the leading anti-immigrant voice in the Senate and allied himself with hate groups, like FAIR. Also, in a Senate floor speech 10 years ago, Sessions maligned every immigrant from the Dominican Republic, “Fundamentally, almost no one coming from the Dominican Republic to the United States is coming here because they have a provable skill that would benefit us and that would indicate their likely success in our society,”

We’ll be monitoring the Sessions nomination closely over the next few weeks and providing updates on the latest developments.