Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Announces Opposition to Senator Jefferson Sessions’ Nomination to Serve as Attorney General of the United States
WASHINGTON, DC, January 10, 2017 – Today, following an extensive review of Senator Jefferson Sessions’ record on civil rights, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law issued a statement announcing its opposition to his nomination to serve as Attorney General of the United States. The statement was accompanied by a letter opposing his nomination signed by nearly 150 corporate lawyers from across the nation. Its opposition focuses in large part on concerns regarding Sessions’ opposition to enforcement of the Voting Rights Act and other federal civil rights laws.
This past fall, the Lawyers’ Committee filed a Voting Rights Act case concerning the method of election used for the state’s three highest courts in Sessions’ home state of Alabama. All members of those courts today are white because of voting discrimination and racially polarized voting that persists across the state. That said, Senator Sessions has described the Voting Rights Act as an “intrusive piece of legislation” and has stated that voting discrimination no longer exists in states such as Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina. Evidence makes clear that voting discrimination persists and Senator Sessions does not hold a commitment to enforcement of this critical law.
“Our nation is at a crossroads. At a time of great division in our country, Senator Sessions has repeatedly stood opposed to equal protection under the law for our nation’s most vulnerable communities,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Senator Sessions has cheered the demise of a critical provision of the Voting Rights Act, opposed hate crimes legislation and the Violence Against Women Act, adamantly fought efforts to diversify Alabama’s all-white appeals courts, and prosecuted black civil rights advocates who were performing the most American of activities – registering people to vote.”
“Despite the fact that Senator Sessions claims that Americans no longer face voting discrimination, the Lawyers’ Committee filed several cases in 2016 alone to enforce the Voting Rights Act and its promise that all Americans can participate equally in the democratic process,” said John Nonna. “Senator Sessions cannot simultaneously deny reality and uphold the law.”
James P. Joseph, Co-Chair, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law stated, “Americans deserve an Attorney General who has demonstrated clearly and consistently that everyone is entitled to the protections and rights guaranteed by the Constitution.”
In 1986, the Senate Judiciary Committee recognized that Senator Sessions’ record on race, which included calling an African American colleague “boy” and describing organizations like the NAACP as “un-American,” made him unfit to be one of several hundred federal district court judges. That record remains unchanged. But in the years since, Senator Sessions’ actions have only confirmed that he lacks the ability and commitment to uphold and defend the rights of all Americans.
About the Lawyers’ Committee:
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Formed over 50 years ago, we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; employment; voting; education; environmental justice; and criminal justice. For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.