By Ed Diokno
And so begins the first of many anticipated battles.
Meeting in Washington D.C. Friday, civil rights leaders from The Leadership Conference, the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, the National Action Network, the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., NCAPA, NCLR and MALDEF condemned the GOP plan to rush the hearing of Senator Jeff Sessions for the position of U.S. Attorney General.
“The Attorney General serves as the People’s Lawyer, and there is too much at stake for Republican Senators to give special treatment to Senator Sessions just because he eats at the same lunch table and works out the same gym.”
As reported by a coalition of organizations, Sessions’ initial Senate Judiciary Questionnaire had hundreds of concerning omissions. Despite a supplement of new entries submitted weeks later, a second report demonstrated that his application is still astonishingly incomplete, and Sessions’ hypocrisy has been breathtaking.
Furthermore, Sessions has grossly misrepresented his civil rights record by claiming that cases he had “no substantive involvement in” were among the most significant he personally handled. Sessions’ disregard for the Senate requirements shows a fundamental disregard for the office of Attorney General and for the Senate itself.Sessions has a 30-year record of racial insensitivity, bias against immigrants, disregard for the rule of law, and hostility towards the protection of civil rights that makes him unfit to serve as the Attorney General of the United States.
“We are convinced that Jeff Sessions will not fairly enforce our nation’s laws and promote justice and equality in the United States,” states a letter signed by 1,100 prominent law professors.
Allegations of racial insensitivity were made against Sessions at a 1986 Senate hearing when he was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to be a federal judge. His nomination was defeated after being opposed by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, People for the American Way and the NAACP, which staged a sit-in in Session’s Mobile, Alabama office led by their national president, Cornell W. Brooks.
Sessions has a 30-year record of racial insensitivity, bias against immigrants, disregard for the rule of law, and hostility towards the protection of civil rights that makes him unfit to serve as the Attorney General of the United States. Session’s attempt to omit or downplay his past is telling. If we need any reminding, here are some of his history that should be remembered by the Senate:
● Applauded the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, which gutted key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
●Voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.
●Voted yes on a constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.
●Opposed the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
●Voted to ease restrictions on wiretapping of cellphones.
●Voted to abolish a program that helps businesses owned by women and minorities compete for federally funded transportation projects.
●Opposed comprehensive immigration reform and nearly every immigration bill that has come before the Senate over the past two decades, including voting against a Senate resolution affirming that the United States must not bar people from the country because of their religion.
“The Attorney General is one of the most important positions in the entire federal government, as the Justice Department has the responsibility to vigorously enforce some of our nation’s most critical laws; to protect the rights and liberties of all Americans,” said Wade Henderson, president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
“Sen. Sessions’ record on civil and human rights, which he failed to fully divulge to the committee in his questionnaire, makes him simply unfit to serve in this critical position. The Senate must delay his confirmation hearing to make ample time for the thorough vetting of Senator Sessions’ long record of public service that the American people deserve.”
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