What You Need to Know About New Attorney General Nominee Jeff Sessions

This piece is one in a series of articles about President-elect Donald Trump’s appointees for the new administration. To read the rest in the series, click here.

First on his list is his proposed Attorney General, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. The selection of Sessions to what is the highest role of law enforcement in the country is one that has those outside of conservative circles extremely leery, especially when it comes to what this may mean for racial justice and reproductive rights in the coming years.

Here is what you need to know about the likely next Attorney General of the United States, Sen. Jeff Sessions:

1) He was rejected as a federal judge in the ’80s because of his past racist comments.

“Back in the mid-1980s, when Sessions was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, [Republican President Ronald] Reagan nominated him to become a federal judge,” Huffington Post reports. “But during the nomination process, allegations emerged that Sessions had called a black attorney ‘boy’; that he suggested a white civil rights lawyer was a race traitor; that he joked he liked the Ku Klux Klan until he found out they smoked marijuana; and that he referred to civil rights groups as ‘un-American’ organizations trying to ‘force civil rights down the throats of people who were trying to put problems behind them.’”

2) He’s been a “Muslim ban” supporter throughout the 2016 campaign.

“Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions says that Donald Trump’s plan to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States has forced an ‘appropriate’ conversation on how the country should decide which immigrants to accept into the country,” Buzzfeed reported in December 2015.

“‘He’s treading on dangerous ground because Americans are so deeply committed to freedom of religion, that is a major part of who we are,’ Sessions said on Breitbart Radio this morning when asked about Trump’s proposal. ‘But at the same time, we’re in an age that’s very dangerous and we’re seeing more and more persons enter and a lot of them have done terrorist acts.

“Their faith commands them to do these things. They’re not committing suicide on the assumption that this is the end, they’re doing it because they believe their faith will reward them for doing it. So I think it’s appropriate to begin to discuss this, and he has forced that discussion,’ Sessions said.”

3) He has been active in opposing civil rights, and especially in voter suppression.

“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,” writes Ari Berman at The Nation.

“Sessions hardly reformed his views after he was elected to the Senate in 1996. He frequently earned an ‘F’ rating from civil rights groups like the NAACP and ‘consistently opposed the bread-and-butter civil rights agenda,’ Hillary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington office, told The New Republic. He voted to reauthorize the VRA in 2006 but praised the Supreme Court’s decision gutting the law in 2013, cluelessly saying, ‘if you go to Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, people aren’t being denied the vote because of the color of their skin.’ (As but one example of ongoing voting discrimination, his home state of Alabama tried to close 31 DMV offices, many in majority-black counties, after requiring strict photo ID to vote.)”

4) He also wants a border wall, just like the President-elect.

“Look, we can fix this situation on the Mexican border,” Sessions told Breitbart News in February. “It is fixable. And a wall, a barrier, is an essential part of that. And it will be the right thing once we make clear to the whole world, including our neighbors to the South, that the border is not open and we mean it and we’re going to enforce it, and if you attempt to come, you’ll be apprehended and promptly deported, the numbers will drop dramatically—as a government witness acknowledged to me in a hearing couple of days ago. Obviously, this is true.”

5) He opposes all legal abortion, and would be the one who fought laws federally or decided whether or not to charge anti-abortion activists violating the FACE Act and blocking people from clinics or harassing providers.

“President-elect Donald Trump this morning has named pro-life Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as his attorney general. That meants the United States will have the first pro-life attorney general since President George W Bush,” LifeNews noted.

“Under pro-abortion President Barack Obama, pro-abortion Attorneys General have labeled pro-life advocates terrorists, went after pro-life people who peacefully protest outside abortion clinics, and refused to properly investigate and prosecute the Planned Parenthood abortion business for engaging in the sales of aborted baby body parts.

“Senator sessions has a 100% pro-life voting record according to the National Right to Life Committee and has consistently voted for pro-life legislation and in opposition to taxpayer funding of abortions. He also voted to defund the Planned Parenthood abortion company and opposes the Roe v.Wade — the Supreme Court ruling that allowed virtually unlimited abortions.”

Why All of This Matters

Mark Joseph Stern at Slate explains concisely why Sessions as A.G. matters so much to everyone in America:

One of the attorney general’s primary jobs is to implement these laws using a variety of tools. On behalf of the U.S. government, the AG can bring lawsuits against states that fail to comply with federal civil rights protections and prosecute individuals who violate them. He can threaten to revoke funding for federal programs when states violate their residents’ civil rights. He can protect the rights of racial and religious minorities, immigrants, women, the disabled, and LGBTQ people in housing, employment, voting, and education. He can combat police brutality and investigate abuse of power. He can ensure that every person is afforded their constitutional right to life and liberty without violent interference.

Or he can do none of the above, allowing states to ride roughshod over their residents’ civil rights, while using his power to punish those people whom federal law attempts to protect. And that, quite clearly, is what Attorney General Jeff Sessions would do.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, via wikimedia commons


Ruth R
Ruth R9 months ago


Sarah H
Sarah Hillabout a year ago

Any comments he may or may not have made 30 or more years ago are irrelevant today. Would you want everything you have said in the past to come out? Would you still believe it?

Sarah H
Sarah Hillabout a year ago

He would not oppose any laws, that would not be his job. His job would be to enforce the laws! Something Obama & Holder have not understood.

Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sandra Vito
Sandra Vitoabout a year ago


Janet B.
Janet Babout a year ago


Joanne p.
Joanne pabout a year ago


Hometuition T.
Hometuition Tabout a year ago

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Karen H.
Karen Habout a year ago

Sorry, Jane R, but I have to laugh. "Trump always wants the best for everything"? More like Trump always wants the best OF everything. For himself. I can see him walking into the House of Representatives and screaming, "You're all fired!" As for Sessions, his past record concerns me. Brian F is right about marijuana. Sessions thought the KKK was okay until he learned they smoked pot. Burning crosses and intimidating people is fine, but smoking pot isn't. Hmmmm. I am deeply concerned about his opposition to the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which extended federal hate crime protections to people victimized because of their sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. As AG, he could turn a blind eye to any hate crimes involving Blacks, LGBTQA , Latinos, Muslims, etc. His views on sexual assault indicate his attitude toward women. In 2000 he said, "I strongly oppose any form of sexual assault or gang rape against an individual on United States or foreign soil. I believe rape is one of the most heinous crimes in our society." But he doesn't see Trump's grabbing a woman by the pussy as sexual assault. I wonder how many pussies he's grabbed, and how he'd react if Trump grabbed one of his daughters without their consent.