Editorials and Opinion
Not on our watch: Democracy is under attack (Missoulian [MT], 11/28/16)
Zack Porter, opinion column: Instead of hanging on every word, let’s review his first decisions as president-elect. Trump nominated a chief strategist who thinks women are less intelligent than men (Bannon), a national security adviser who called Islam a “cancer” (Michael Flynn), and an attorney general who pardoned Trump’s sexual assaults on women and once called a black lawyer “boy” (Jeff Sessions). Shall we “wait and see” some more?
Senators Must Vote ‘No’ To Jeff Sessions As Attorney General: Senators could diligently review the record and vote their conscience. (Huffington Post, 11/22/16)
Christopher Kang: Senate Democrats can not stop this nomination unless Republicans join them, and based on the public statements of support so far, that doesn’t seem likely.
Then again, I imagine this was also the analysis in 1986, when a Republican-controlled Senate considered Sessions’ nomination to the district court—before the Senate Judiciary Committee held two sets of hearings. Before Senator Howell Heflin (also of Alabama) withdrew his support, stating “fairness and impartiality go to the very heart of our justice system...as long as I have reasonable doubts, my conscience is not clear, and I must vote no.” Before two Republicans joined every Democrat on the Judiciary Committee in opposing his nomination. Before the Judiciary Committee rejected a lower court nomination for the first time in nearly half a century.
What happened in 1986 could happen again today: Senators could diligently review the record and vote their conscience.
Why I told the Senate that Jeff Sessions thought civil rights groups were ‘un-American’ (Washington Post, 11/22/16)
J. Gerald Hebert: I met him while I was handling a major voting rights case in Mobile, and I relayed a rumor I’d heard: A federal judge there had allegedly referred to a civil rights lawyer as “a traitor to his race” for taking on black clients. Sessions responded, “Well, maybe he is.”... he referred to the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union as “un-American.” As he saw it, by fighting for racial equality, these groups were “trying to force civil rights down the throats of people who were trying to put problems behind them.”
Trump's Pick for Attorney General Is a 'Drug War Dinosaur': Jeff Sessions opposes sentencing reform, defends civil forfeiture, and criticizes the Obama administration for letting states legalize marijuana. (Reason.com, 11/21/16)
senior editor Jacob Sullum: Sessions' retrograde views on marijuana, his opposition to sentencing reform, and his enthusiasm for civil forfeiture do not bode well for drug policy under Trump .... Trump promised that "safety will be restored" the day he takes office, but he was pretty vague about what that means. It is more than a little disconcerting that an unreconstructed drug warrior like Sessions will help him fill in the details.... we see Sessions' insistence that truth be subordinated to the anti-drug cause.... he clearly did not approve of the Obama administration's tolerance for diverse marijuana policies.... even among Republicans, most (70 percent, according to a CBS News poll conducted last April) think the feds should not interfere with state decisions in this area....Sessions was a leading opponent of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, ... Sessions defends civil forfeiture as well as draconian drug sentences.
Jeff Sessions’ Other Civil Rights Problem (New York Times, 11/21/16)
Thomas J. Sugrue, Op-Ed: Sessions was elected Alabama’s attorney general. While he held the position for only two years — using it as a steppingstone for his campaign for the Senate — he left an indelible mark. He used the power of his office to fight to preserve Alabama’s long history of separate and unequal education.
Thomasson: Trump making bad choices (Evansville Courier Press [IN] , 11/21/16)
Dan K. Thomasson opinion column: Then there is Sessions, a Republican who once was rejected by a Republican Senate after being nominated by President Ronald Reagan to a federal judgeship.... His nomination to be the nation’s top lawyer, while not all that surprising, might face a confirmation challenge given his hard-nose attitude toward immigration and lingering suspicions of him harboring anti-civil rights inclinations.... The fact is, neither he nor Bannon should be anywhere near the new administration.
Senators must use conscience to reject Sessions as Attorney General (The Hill, 11/20/16)
NAN ARON: Three decades ago, a Republican-led Senate found Senator Jeff Sessions unfit to serve as a federal judge. Today, senators must join in bipartisan conscience again to reject his nomination, this time as the nation’s top lawyer and civil rights enforcer.
Voting Rights in the Age of Trump (New York Times, 11/19/16)
Ari Berman: If Donald J. Trump appoints a justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia to fill the current vacancy, as he has pledged to do, there could be five votes to further gut the Voting Rights Act.... Trump’s Justice Department will also present a severe threat to voting rights. ... As a United States attorney in the 1980s, Jeff Sessions, Mr. Trump’s choice for attorney general, charged black civil rights activists in Alabama with voter fraud. (They were acquitted.) He has called the Voting Rights Act "a piece of intrusive legislation,” and supported the Supreme Court’s Shelby decision, saying “if you go to Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, people aren’t being denied the vote because of the color of their skin.”
Jeff Sessions as attorney general: a terrifying prospect for black Americans (Guardian News and Media, 11/19/16)
Bakari T Sellers: An attorney general with a track record of hostility towards women, communities of color and the LGBT community is simply unfit to serve.
So to answer President-elect Trump’s question: “What do African-Americans have to lose?” With Sessions’ appointment to serve as the 84th attorney general of the United States, the answer is easy: everything.
THE TOTAL TRUMPISM OF JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE (New Yorker, 11/18/16)
Amy Davidson: What might be called the greatest racist hits attributed to Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III have become well known: many such allegations emerged in 1986, when attempts to confirm him as a federal judge failed. ... given the particular responsibilities of the Department of Justice, which range from defending voting rights to oversight of the F.B.I., Sessions’s appointment would be even more upsetting, and frankly dangerous, than those slurs suggest. He has a record of turning what some might be tempted to write off as personal bigotry into political action.
Jeff Sessions, Trump’s attorney general pick, would be a massive setback for civil rights (Vox, 11/18/16)
German Lopez: Sessions has been extremely conservative — he has opposed reforms to reduce mass incarceration, proposed stringent crackdowns on immigration, and he even has a history of racist remarks that ended his hopes of a federal judgeship. And that’s not even getting to other issues, from voting rights to discrimination against LGBTQ people, where Sessions has been equally conservative.
Sessions will undo decades of progress (CNN, 11/18/16)
Laura Coates: Surely Jeff Sessions, a man accused of calling prominent Civil Rights groups like the NAACP "un-American," and condemning the Klu Klux Klan for supposed marijuana use (rather than its legacy of hate), will further undermine the African-American community's faith that his department will act in -- let alone prioritize -- the interests of communities of color.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions Would Spell Absolute Disaster for Civil Rights in America (Slate.com, 11/18/16)
Mark Joseph Stern: Sessions is an outwardly racist, xenophobic, homophobic misogynist—and he will now direct the enforcement of federal civil rights law in the United States. His leadership of the Justice Department would reverse decades of gains made by vulnerable populations across the country. If confirmed, Sessions will endanger not only the fundamental rights of minorities and women, but also their lives.
Jeff Sessions, Trump’s Pick for Attorney General, Is a Fierce Opponent of Civil Rights He wrongly prosecuted black activists for voter fraud, was blocked from a judgeship because of racist statements, and opposed the Voting Rights Act. (Nation, 11/18/16)
Ari Berman: A bipartisan coalition of senators sunk Sessions’s nomination, making him the first Reagan judicial nominee rejected by the Senate. Democratic Senator Howell Heflin of Alabama, who’d been elected with large black support, cast the decisive swing vote. “My conscience is not clear,” Heflin said, “and I must vote no.”
Now Sessions will be in charge of enforcing the civil-rights laws he once opposed, like the Voting Rights Act. He’s almost certain to further weaken what’s left of the law and to encourage the kind of bogus prosecutions for voter fraud that led him to be rejected for a federal judgeship.
The nightmare of Jeff Sessions as attorney general (Washington Post, 11/18/16)
Opinion by Steven Hale: alleged racism is not the only worrisome thing on Sessions’s résumé.... Sessions — a man who has, in the past, shown some bitterness over the fact that Abraham Lincoln “killed” one of his ancestors — will follow Eric Holder and Loretta E. Lynch, the first African American and first African American woman, respectively, to lead the Justice Department.
Will Jeff Sessions Roll Back Civil-Rights Protections? Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general has a record of hostility toward the federal government's role in curtailing discrimination on the basis of race, sexuality, and immigration status. (Atlantic, 11/18/16)
Adam Serwer: evidence that Sessions’s views on law and policy have changed is thin. Since becoming a senator, Sessions has denounced federal efforts to protect the rights of marginalized Americans as intrusive, decried the extension of equal rights to gays and lesbians as a threat to Western civilization, and fought to preserve punitive laws in the face of a bipartisan trend toward criminal-justice reform. Sessions’s selection as attorney general augurs an era in which the federal agency charged with protecting the rights of women, ethnic and religious minorities, and LGBT Americans will be led by a man who has been openly skeptical of, if not opposed, to its past efforts to do so.
Five Reasons Jeff Sessions Would Be No Friend of Liberty In the Trump Administration (Reason.com, 11/16/16)
Anthony L. Fisher: 1. He was not only for "the Wall" before Trump thought it was cool, he's against legal immigration, too.... 2. He thinks only bad people do drugs, m'kay.... 4. He's pretty hung up about "the gays."... 5. He has an aversion to civil rights, and has been accused of using racially insensitive language in the workplace.
SEN. SESSIONS AND SHELBY TO BLOCK NOMINATION OF BLACK JUDGE TO FEDERAL COURT (Henry Report [AL], 02/12/16)
Jon B. Carroll: Pres. Barack Obama has nominated one of the most highly qualified judges in Alabama’s history to fill a vacancy on the 11th circuit Court of Appeals.... Alabama has five federal judicial vacancies. ... Alabama has five federal judicial vacancies. ... Abdul Kallon is widely thought by committees in the state bar association, and deans of the state’s law schools, to be one of the most highly qualified nominees in recent history.... In my opinion, these two Alabama Senators are doing our state, and country, an injustice by not respecting this and approving Judge Kallon’s nomination.
Civil Forfeiture Finds A Champion | Commentary (Roll Call, 05/13/15)
Robert Everett Johnson, Institute for Justice: civil forfeiture finally found a voice in GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions .... And that defense is unconvincing. ... he declared that he was “very unhappy” with criticism of civil forfeiture, because in his view “taking and seizing and forfeiting, through a government judicial process, illegal gains from criminal enterprises is not wrong.” Apparently drawing a number from thin air, Sessions announced “95 percent” of forfeitures involve people who have “done nothing in their lives but sell dope.” ... Sessions asserted, it would be "unthinkable that we would make it harder for the government to take money from a drug dealer than it is for a businessperson to defend themselves in a lawsuit." Thus, Sessions believes when government wants to take property allegedly involved in a crime, it “should not have a burden of proof higher than a normal civil case.”