Washington, D.C. — Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to confirm Jeff Sessions as attorney general. Michele Jawando, Vice President for Legal Progress at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:
In just his first week in office, President Donald Trump ordered the construction of a border wall, tried to block federal funding to jurisdictions that don’t want local police entangled with immigration enforcement, suspended all refugee admissions to the country, and banned entry by nationals of seven majority-Muslim countries. At the center of these controversial policies was Jeff Sessions—a close Trump advisor whom the Senate just voted to confirm as attorney general. Last week, President Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates because she followed her oath to honor the U.S. Constitution, rather than defending the ill-conceived and unconstitutional ban.
Attorney General Sessions, on the other hand, will be a key player in implementing the Trump administration’s “law and order” agenda—a phrase that ignores crime rates near historic lows and conjures images of mass incarceration, stop and frisk, and other policies that target communities of color. As a senator, Sessions (R-AL) consistently opposed common-sense reforms of our criminal justice and immigration systems. As a federal prosecutor, Sessions charged three black voting rights activists with fraud in what was widely perceived as an attempt to suppress voters of color. Sessions opposes LGBT rights, wants to sharply limit immigration, and once voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. Some of Sessions’ former advisors reportedly drafted the Muslim ban.
Trump has shown little respect for the courts or the constitutional limits on his power, and there is no reason to think that Attorney General Sessions will act as an independent check on the president. In fact, there are many reasons to believe that Sessions will be completely on board with Trump’s discriminatory agenda. Sessions has spent his career opposing the very rights he is now responsible for protecting.
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