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News Release

Civil Rights Leaders Decry Rushed Confirmation Hearing of Unfit Attorney General Nominee Jeff Sessions

January 6, 2017

Contact:
Enrique Chaurand
echaurand@nclr.org
202-776-1784

Nicky Vogt
vogt@newpartners.com
202-331-2389

Washington, DC — Today, civil rights leaders from The Leadership Conference, the National Action Network, the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., NCAPA, NCLR and MALDEF condemned the rushed hearing of Senator Jeff Sessions, an unfit nominee for Attorney General, and called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose his nomination.

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.

A recording of today’s call is available here.

Wade Henderson, President of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said, “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. Senator 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.”

Sherrilyn Ifill, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.’s President and Director-Counsel, said, “There is only one real question before the Committee, the Senate, and the American people: Does the nearly 40 year record of Sen. Sessions in public life demonstrate that he is fit and prepared to be the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, and particularly the chief enforcer of our nation’s civil rights laws? No matter how the hearing process is rigged, the rules are bent, or history is rewritten by Sen. Sessions’ supporters, his long and voluminous record demonstrates that the answer to that question is no.

Christopher Kang, Director of National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, said, “Republicans are rushing to rubberstamp Sessions’ nomination because they know that if they followed the rules—and if Senator Sessions submitted the required information—then his nomination would be rejected, just as it was 30 years ago, because he is still unable to protect the civil rights and liberties of all Americans. 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.”

Janet Murguía, President and CEO of National Council of La Raza, said, “Senator Jeff Sessions has been the architect of the most extreme and anti-immigrant views and positions that have been promoted by President-elect Donald Trump. Throughout his career he has staunchly opposed the progress of historically disenfranchised groups, whether it’s Blacks, Latinos, LGBT Americans, or women. Those of us who fight for a just society that values diversity and equal treatment under the law for all must work together to stop his confirmation as our nation's next attorney general.”

Thomas Saenz, President and General Counsel of Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said, "The scant available record on his views of the law indicates that Sessions is far, far outside the mainstream of legal thinking in 21st century America, particularly on issues of greatest concern to the Latino community. It takes more than a law degree to be confirmed as Attorney General, the lead attorney in the federal government; the current record suggests that Sessions, without candidly acknowledging this view, rejects wholesale the development of constitutional civil rights law by the Supreme Court in the last 60 years."

Cornell William Brooks, NAACP’s President and CEO, said, “Senator Sessions’ callous and caustic opposition to the vote and refusal to acknowledge the reality of voter suppression, means he’s not only a threat to the values of the America of the majority, but an even greater threat to the power of the vote and our democracy.”

Reverend Al Sharpton, Founder and President, of the National Action Network, said, “This isn’t about partisan politics, this is about stopping an individual who has made racist comments and called the Voting Rights Act “intrusive,” from heading the Justice Department. Nothing in his career suggests he understands justice. Instead, his statements suggest he won’t enforce civil rights. It’s not the Anti-Justice Department, it’s an agency we rely on to protect freedom and democracy. He’s not the person for the job and we will do everything we can to block his appointment.”