Jeff Sessions as Attorney General? Please, No, Make It Stop

As we wait for the Senate to vote on Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, here's a quick reminder of why he would be disastrous at defending Americans' constitutional rights.

by Amanda Arnold
Feb 8 2017, 11:08pm

Below is what happened on Trump's thirteenth day in office. You can find out what damage was done every other day so far on the Saddest Calendar on the Internet.

In 1986, civil rights activist Coretta Scott King watched as the US Senate considered the nomination of Jefferson Sessions for federal judge, a man who had intimidated and frightened elderly black voters in Alabama and whose blatant racism she believed would backpedal on the progress that her husband had made. To rebuke the nominee, she penned an impassioned and ever-pertinent letter to the to the members of the Judiciary Committee to reject him; the document would soon become integral to the case against him, and consequently, he would be defeated.

It wasn't until a month ago, though, that this letter became public. After the defeat, then-Judiciary Committee Chairman Strom Thurmond never filed it into the congressional record, and therefore few knew of its existence. A week before Martin Luther King Day, though, the the Washington Post published it, and last night, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) stood in front of the Senate and read that letter again as a plea against Sessions—that is, until Senate Republicans silenced her with a rarely-enforced rule to stop her from speaking again on Sessions' nomination to be US Attorney General today. Tonight, the full Senate will vote at 6:50 PM EST. (USA Today is currently livestreaming the Senate's debate).

It almost feels unnecessary to detail how Sessions' approval would be detrimental to much of the progress America has made in the past 50-plus years—it's a trend that has presented itself again and again with Trump's cabinet picks. But to explicitly restate a handful of his discriminatory, unprogressive, and phobic stances, Broadly reported the following before his confirmation hearings:

If Sessions is confirmed now, advocates say it could threaten marijuana legalization, police reform, immigration reform, and voting rights. Indeed, we can look to Sessions' record to get a good idea of his policy: In the Senate, Sessions has voted against gay marriage, against restoring voting rights to people convicted of a felony, and in favor of upholding voter ID laws that effectively discriminate against trans people and poor people. Sessions also voted to increase penalties for drug offenses and, at a Senate drug hearing last April, he said, "Good people don't smoke marijuana."

That's Bleak. Who's Fighting Against It?

While a handful of male senators, including Tom Udall (D-NM), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Bernie Sanders, resisted Warren's silencing by reading King's letter in front of the Senate, it's likely that Sessions will be approved due to the Republicans' hold on the Senate.