Sessions confirmation leads to an unknown future for racial justice
By Brittany Van Pelt, Register Contributor
After weeks of vicious bickering, Jeff Sessions was confirmed as Attorney General this past Wednesday. Sessions, an Alabama Republican, was confirmed in a close 52-47 vote.
Just minutes after being confirmed, Sessions said, “I can’t express how appreciative I am for those of you who stood by me during this difficult time. By your vote tonight, I have been given a real challenge. I’ll do my best to be worthy of it.”
Even with Sessions known alleged past of being racially-biased on his rulings, he received all confirmations from members in his own party. Senator Jeff Manchin III, a Democrat from West Virginia, was the only member from his party to vote to confirm Sessions.
Sessions confirmation process has been one of the most lively and jarring so far of the Trump administration. At the beginning of the nomination process, Senator Cory Booker became the first sitting senator to depose another sitting senator during their confirmation hearing.
As Sessions’ final hearings were underway, Democrats – in an attempt to stall as long as they could—enlisted Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, to read a letter written by Coretta Scott King in 1986. The letter was written to past president Ronald Regan. At that time, Sessions was nominated for federal judgeship.
In the letter, King describes Sessions’ many attacks on the African-American community as an US attorney general. On countless occasions, Sessions unlawfully pursued and antagonized African-Americans in order to make their life harder in various institutions.
King states that Sessions pursued “politically motivated voting fraud protection” and that he “lacks the temperament, fairness, and judgement to be a federal judge.”
The most controversial of Sessions’ racial allegations is his many alleged attempts to block African-American’s from voting. Since taking the bench in Alabama, Sessions has succeeded in stopping the appointment of several black judges. Even today, there are currently only three black judges representing about thirty percent of the African-American community in Alabama.
King regarded in her letter that Sessions’ lead a prosecutorial voting-fraud case against various civil rights leaders and that it “raises serious questions about his commitment to the prosecution of the voting rights of all American citizens.”
Warren was warned that by reading the letter she would be breaking Rule 19, which is a regulation that is seldom employed, that permits senators from challenging each other. Afterwards, the senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, put Warren in a “time-out.” Several other Democratic senators, including Bernie Sanders, took the floor to pick up reading the letter after Warren was excused.
The silencing of Warren from talking on the floor lead to a social media hashtag named #LetLizSpeak.
The controversy over Sessions has even brought some unknown past allegations to the current forefront. It has been alleged that Sessions was denied federal judgeship thirty years ago because he called a Black prosecutor “boy.” Sessions also allegedly said that the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union were “un-American.”
Sessions’ confirmation as Attorney General leaves many unanswered questions and unresolved issues for various political organizations, which cater to minority groups. As a lawyer, Sessions already holds a controversial, conservative, and biased reputation. The newest arrival in the current carnival-like administration may leave you feeling baffled and will continue to bring a mass of on-lookers to the show for years.