Posted by Arab American Institute on January 09, 2017 in Blog
Senator Jeff Sessions will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, January 10th at 9:30am.
Jeff Sessions is currently a Republican Senator from Alabama and member of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary which provides oversight to several federal agencies including the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Committee also plays a significant role in federal judicial nominations and legislation related to civil liberties, immigration and naturalization, and criminal law. He served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama from 1981-1993. Sessions was elected Attorney General of Alabama serving from 1995 until 1997.
The Attorney General of the United States has broad authority to shape our nation’s federal rights agenda through the Department of Justice. This covers everything from civil rights and voting rights to counter terrorism policy, hate crimes, and police brutality.
Senator Jeff Sessions’ record raises concerns about how he might use his discretion as Attorney General to enforce equal protection of the law for all Americans. 37 groups, including AAI, wrote to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to raise several concerns and urge a NO vote on his confirmation.
Here’s what we’re concerned about:
- Senator Sessions has a history of hostility towards civil rights organizations, once calling them “un-American”
- Senator Sessions has been hostile to the advancement of voting rights. He has supported discriminatory policies that deny voting rights to millions of Americans and he welcomed the 2013 gutting of the Voting Rights Act.
- Senator Sessions has a long and close connection to xenophobic and bigoted organizations. Just two years ago he accepted an award from a noted hate group.
- Senator Sessions was one of the only Senators on the Judiciary Committee to oppose a bill that condemned the idea of imposing a religious litmus test for immigrants. Sessions also expressed support for ideological screenings of immigrants.
- The U.S. Senate denied Sessions a federal judgeship in part because of concern over his past racist comments, once calling the KKK “ok” and calling an attorney a “race traitor” for representing a black man in a voting rights case.
- Senator Sessions has consistently advocated for inhumane and radical deportation plans, and has stated his opposition to legal immigration.
- Senator Sessions was one of just nine Senators who voted against a prohibition on the use of torture.
- Senator Sessions has tried to block needed surveillance reform, even opposing the minimal reforms in the USA Freedom Act.
- Senator Sessions has been a zealous opponent of equal rights for the LGBTQ community, and voted against legalizing same-sex marriage.
Questions we want Senator Sessions to answer at his confirmation hearing:
- How will you direct the Department of Justice to prosecute hate crimes that target individuals based on their actual or perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, and national origin?
- How would you protect voting rights to ensure that every eligible voter is able to register to vote? And how would you address the fact that millions of voters are currently disenfranchised by discriminatory voter identification laws?
- What will be your approach to protecting the freedom of religion, freedom of association, and freedom of speech for Arab Americans and American Muslims that are being targeted for their political views, national origin, and/or religious beliefs?
- Would you oppose or refuse to implement immigration policies that are discriminatory, offensive to American values, or are inhumane responses to humanitarian crises overseas?
- How will you direct your office to investigate instances of police brutality, the racial patterns behind such incidents, and to collect data regarding the use of force by police officers?
- What is your view of the inadequacies of the 2003 “Guidelines on the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement” and the 2014 revisions to that guidance?