Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who is Donald Trump’s nominee to be attorney general, faced the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning. And, in typical Republican fashion, he denied, deflected, and lied.
In his opening statements, Sessions pointed to a number of issues currently facing the country: LGBT rights, voting rights, systemic racism, and religious freedom.
Based on his moving speech, with his soft-spoken southern demeanor, one wouldn’t know who Jeff Sessions really is – an anti-woman, anti-LGBT, anti-black, and anti-immigrant demagogue.
Take, for example, the comparing and contrasting of Sessions’ statements vs. the facts.
A special priority for me in this regard will be aggressive enforcement of our laws to ensure access to the ballot for every eligible American voter, without hindrance or discrimination, and to ensure the integrity of the electoral process…
…I deeply understand the history of civil rights and the horrendous impact that relentless and systemic discrimination and the denial of voting rights has had on our African-American brothers and sisters.
Even though Sessions voted to reauthorize it in 2006 (with reservations), the Senator argued in 1996 that the Voting Rights Act was “engineering” a political outcome, and championed the repeal of sections 3 and 5 of the Act (even while senator), which set up special protections in southern states to combat discriminatory voting practices that were regulated by the federal government. In 2013, the Supreme Court repealed Section 3 (which rendered Section 5 moot), a decision which has opened the floodgates to anti-voting laws throughout the South, especially in North Carolina. Sessions cheered this on, calling it “good news…for the South.” This is what Sessions fought for but failed in the Senate.
In 1985, Sessions prosecuted three black men, which included MLK’s former aid Albert Turner, on charges of voter fraud with very little evidence. The “Marion Three” as they became known as were renowned in their community for being voting rights and registration activists. They were acquitted by a jury after only three hours of deliberation, and Sessions, while admitting he doesn’t regret his decision, admitted he was shoddy in his approach. That’s what the Justice Department needs – a shoddy attorney who might have wrongfully convicted black civil rights activists.
Sessions’ office also dropped the case with regards to a man who was lynched by the KKK. The members, who were caught, were eventually tried and convicted, but not by Session’s office.
Sessions, as everyone knows, referred to the NAACP as “un-American” and then said it could be construed as being “un-American.”
Sessions also supports the discriminatory voter ID laws “on the surface.”
How is Attorney General Sessions going to tackle the mounting anti-voting laws being passed in southern states after the provisions he hated were gutted? How will he be able to divorce his decades-long war against black activists who want the freedom to vote without, as Sessions put it, hindrance or discrimination?
I understand the demands for justice and fairness made by the LGBT community.
Senator Sessions has a zero rating from the United States’ largest gay rights advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign. Sessions opposes same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption rights, and voted against hate crimes preventions (he said such legislation would “cheapen civil rights” in America). He opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and supports a federal marriage amendment.
With regards to the possibility of a gay supreme court justice, Sessions is on record saying, “that would be a big concern that the American people might feel—might feel uneasy about that.”
So, in a nutshell, no, Sessions does not “understand” the demands of justice and fairness made by the LGBT community. He hears them, but he doesn’t care about them or their rights, dignity and respect.
I understand the lifelong scars born by women who are victims of assault and abuse.
Senator Sessions voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act in 2013, citing concerns about issues pertaining to tribal procedure, although the issues pertaining to LGBT women may have played a role in Sessions’ “no” vote.
In October, when a video surfaced of Donald Trump bragging about grabbing a woman by the genitals, Sessions was asked whether or not he believed such bragging constituted sexual assault. His Response? “I don’t characterize that as sexual assault, I think that’s a stretch … I don’t know. It’s not clear that he – how that would occur.”
Sessions voted against the largest piece of legislation that helps combat abuse and defended his preferred candidate when it became evident he has sexually assaulted at least one woman in his lifetime.
Sessions lied through his teeth in his confirmation hearing. He has absolutely no idea as to the plight of women, African-Americans, gays, or anyone else for that matter. He has inflated his record, he has miscategorized his past statements and votes, and he would be the most ass-backwards thinking attorney general in years.
We cannot let him get away with his revisionist history.
Featured image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images