From a civil rights perspective, President-elect Donald Trump is preparing to assemble one of the most dangerous administrations in recent history.
That process takes a step forward today as the Senate Judiciary Committee begins confirmation hearings for Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).
In his 20 years in Congress, Sessions has stridently opposed inclusive policies in a variety of areas. This record has endeared the senator from Alabama to numerous far-right, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim groups. As the Center for New Community’s new Nativists in the White House resource details, these extremist groups have repeatedly honored Sessions over the years.
The senator has returned the favor by regularly appearing at anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim events, inviting representatives from extremist groups to testify before Congress, and even dedicating a Senate floor speech to commemorate a prominent anti-immigrant group’s 15th anniversary.
Currently, many of these groups are circulating action alerts urging members to call their Senators in support of Sessions’s nomination. Their reason for doing so is quite clear: a Sessions-led Department of Justice would almost surely see the realization of the policy goals these extremist groups advocate.
— FAIR (@FAIRImmigration) January 10, 2017
— NumbersUSA (@NumbersUSA) January 10, 2017
.@SenatorSessions is an honorable & dedicated public servant who will provide steady, principled leadership. Sessions will make a great AG
— Frank Gaffney (@frankgaffney) January 10, 2017
More troublingly than Sessions’s expected support from extremist groups is Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s handling of the confirmation process. Grassley has only allotted two days of hearings for Sessions’s confirmation.
For someone like Sessions, whose 30+ years holding public office have garnered much controversy and criticism, two days is simply not long enough. Grassley’s expedited confirmation process is also concerning given that Sessions has failed to provide members of the Judiciary Committee with a complete record of materials pertinent to his nomination.
No matter how many ways Sessions attempts to distort his past experience and downplay the danger he would pose to civil rights as attorney general, it is clear any senator that votes to approve him would be voting to repeal decades of progress in myriad policy areas.
Whether it’s a matter of voting rights, reproductive justice, immigrant and refugee rights, LGBT rights, or criminal justice policy, thousands of advocates and experts have expressed their strident opposition to Sessions’s nomination.
As Sessions sits before the Senate Judiciary Committee today and tomorrow, our senators must acknowledge these concerns and accordingly deny his nomination.