Despite millions of phone calls, emails, letters, and personal visits to Senators, and a highly contentious debate on the Senate floor which lasted through the night, Senator Jefferson “Jeff” Beauregard Sessions III was confirmed in the evening of 2/8/17 by the full Senate to be the 84th Attorney General of the United States.
Throughout two days of hearings, as well as millions of phone calls, emails, letters and 30 hours of debate on the floor of the US Senate, which included Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA) being not allowed to read a letter written in 1986 by Mrs. Coretta Scott King, it was demonstrated conclusively that Senator Sessions lacks the judgment, the temperament, and the independence to serve effectively as Attorney General of the United States. Senator Sessions’ record throughout his careers demonstrate a clear disregard, disrespect, and even disdain for the civil, human, voting and Constitutional rights of racial and ethnic minorities, women, the disabled, members of the LGBT community, and others who suffer from discrimination in this country. Despite these demonstrated flaws, Senator Sessions was confirmed by the US Senate to serve as the next Attorney General on February 8, 2017.
The tragedy is that as Attorney General, he will ultimately be responsible for protecting the rights of all Americans to live freely, to pursue happiness, and to participate in our democracy.
In addition to his woeful voting record, Senator Sessions has also voiced policy and opinions which are diametrically opposed, and in too many cases, directly hurtful to the NAACP and the communities we serve. Specifically, he has referred to the NAACP as “un-American” and “Communist-inspired” because we “forced civil rights down the throats of people.” He has also accused the NAACP and other like- minded groups of teaching anti-American values. In 2015, Senator Sessions said that calls to remove the Confederate flag from public buildings are among efforts by “the left” to “delegitimize the fabulous accomplishments of our country”; and in 2006 he referred to the 1965 Voting Rights Act during its reauthorization as “a piece of intrusive legislation.”
Throughout the confirmation process, the NAACP expressed staunch opposition to Senator Sessions’ confirmation and we expressed our very real concerns that as Attorney General he will not work to protect the civil, human, voting and Constitutional rights of all Americans. Those concerns remain. It is now our hope however that Senator Sessions will work hard to prove these concerns wrong and that he will lead the Department of Justice in a manner that protects fundamental civil rights and promotes opportunity and achievement for all Americans. Meanwhile, the NAACP will continue to work at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure that rights of all Americans are respected and protected.