News & Politics

7 troubling quotes show why Jeff Sessions is wrong on racial justice


Lindsay Schubiner • Jan 10, 2017

As the confirmation hearings for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Donald Trump’s pick for Attorney General, begin today, Imagine 2050 has rounded up seven important reads (along with quotes from each) on Sessions’ record on racial justice.

By now, most of us have heard of Sessions’ approving jokes about the KKK and his shocking dismissal of the ACLU and the NAACP as “un-American.” Readers of this blog are surely familiar with Sessions’ close alliance with organized racist movements that target immigrants and Muslims specifically. His support for their policy priorities has garnered him awards from at least three hate groups.

But if you want to delve further into Sessions’ record on racial justice, and get some background for questions he may be asked today, don’t miss these important reads:

“Sessions has repeatedly stood in the way of efforts to promote and protect Americans’ civil rights. He did so even as other members of the Republican Party sought to work across the aisle to advance the cause of living up to our nation’s core values of equality and justice…”

–Sen. Patrick Leahy in The Boston Globe

“Sessions knows that his real record on race and civil rights is harmful to his chances for confirmation. So he has made up a fake one. But many of us who were there — in Alabama in the 1980s, 1990s and beyond — are still around. We lived that story, too. And we are here to testify that Sessions has done many things throughout his 40-year career. Protecting civil rights has not been one of them.”

–J. Gerald Hebert, Joseph D. Rich and William Yeomans in The Washington Post

“All of us believe it is unacceptable for someone with Senator Sessions’ record to lead the Department of Justice… As law faculty who work every day to better understand the law and teach it to our students, we are convinced that Jeff Sessions will not fairly enforce our nation’s laws and promote justice and equality in the United States.”

–1424 faculty members from 180 different law schools in 49 states across the country

When Alabama became the first state to bring back the use of chain gangs in 1995—a horrific remnant of Jim Crow—Sessions, as Alabama attorney general, defended it as “perfectly proper.” (The chain gangs were scrapped after a year because of a federal lawsuit.)”

–Ari Berman in The Nation

“…Outside groups defending Sessions point to his two-year tenure as Alabama attorney general as a reason he should be confirmed. Look at that record closely, though, and you’ll find a legal officer with an atrocious record of holding allies, political and otherwise, accountable to the Constitution, to the law, or to basic ethical standards.”

–Elizabeth Wydra in Slate

“…Sessions’ relationship with Breitbart has been deep, intentional, and mutually reinforcing. Sessions knew the audience he was reaching by working closely and repeatedly with “the platform for the Alt-Right.” His admiration for and close working relationship with a website that has become infamous for promoting white nationalism and anti-Black, anti-woman and anti-immigrant hate should be disqualifying for someone who wants to represent all Americans as attorney general.”

–Marge Baker in The Huffington Post

“[Sessions] worked to execute insane, mentally ill and intellectually disabled people, among others, who were convicted in trials riddled with instances of prosecutorial misconduct, racial discrimination and grossly inadequate defense lawyering. Mr. Sessions’ eager participation in an unjust Alabama capital system makes him a frightening prospective civil rights enforcer for the nation.”

–John J. Donohue III and Max Schoening in The New York Times

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