Federal Courts and Nominations

Constitutional Accountability Center “Deeply Troubled” By Expected Nomination Of Senator Sessions To Be U.S. Attorney General

Washington, DC – Amid reports that President-elect Donald Trump will announce his plans to nominate Alabama Senator Jefferson B. (“Jeff”) Sessions to be the 84th Attorney General of the United States, Constitutional Accountability Center President Elizabeth Wydra issued the following reaction: 


“We are deeply troubled by today’s announcement. In his long career, Senator Sessions has built a record that calls into serious question his fitness for the role of U.S. Attorney General, a record that the Senate should examine with meticulous scrutiny.


“The U.S. Department of Justice is responsible for ensuring that the Constitution’s guarantees are upheld and enjoyed equally by everyone in America. Among other duties, including national security and environmental law enforcement, the Attorney General is charged with enforcing anti-discrimination laws so that all Americans – whatever their color, creed, gender identity, sexual orientation, or ability – can live and work as equal citizens. 


“In the sphere of criminal justice, the Attorney General enforces civil rights laws aimed at preventing police brutality in communities of color and combating implicit racial bias. Regarding the right most often addressed in our Constitution — the right to vote — the Attorney General must ensure that all Americans’ voting rights are respected – particularly the votes of people of color, which continue to undergo assault by states not only in the South, but also in Republican-dominated states in the Midwest and Great Lakes.


“Senator Sessions has a long record on the other side of these bedrock constitutional values. When Sessions was a U.S. Attorney and nominated to a federal judgeship in 1986, witnesses testified that Sessions called an African American colleague ‘boy,’ while calling leading civil rights organizations like the NAACP and the ACLU ‘un-American’ and ‘Communist-inspired.’ Sessions also said the Voting Rights Act was ‘an intrusive piece of legislation.’


“In recent years, Senator Sessions has taken both sides of the Voting Rights Act. He voted to reauthorize it in full in 2006, only to call the U.S. Supreme Court’s gutting of the VRA in 2013 ‘good news, I think, for the South.’ Sessions has also backed President-elect Trump’s call to end birthright citizenship, one of the most sacred guarantees of our Constitution, paid for with the blood and sacrifice of countless Americans during the Civil War.


“In 1986, then-U.S. Senator Howard Metzenbaum said that Sessions was someone of ‘marginal qualifications who lacks judicial temperament.’ Metzenbaum went on to say that Sessions was ‘hostile to civil rights organizations and their causes,’ and concluded by saying, ‘How any black person would be able to feel they are going to have impartial justice from Mr. Sessions is beyond me.’


“Senator Sessions has provided little evidence to change that conclusion in the intervening 30 years.”






“Senate Panel Rejects Reagan Nominee for Federal Judgeship : Critics Accused Him of Racially Insensitive Talk” Los Angeles Times, June 5, 1986: articles.latimes.com/1986-06-05/news/mn-9895_1_civil-rights-leaders


“A new VRA formula? Don’t hold your breath,” Washington Post, June 25, 2013: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2013/06/25/a-new-vra-map-dont-hold-your-breath/ 


“Jeff Sessions Backs Trump On Birthright Citizenship: ‘Absolutely Not An Extreme Position’ [VIDEO],” Daily Caller, August 19, 2015: http://dailycaller.com/2015/08/19/jeff-sessions-backs-trump-on-birthright-citizenship-absolutely-not-an-extreme-position-video 


“Born Under the Constitution: Why Recent Attacks on Birthright Citizenship are Unfounded” CAC Issue Brief, Elizabeth Wydra, March 31, 2011: http://theusconstitution.org/think-tank/issue-brief/born-under-constitution-why-recent-attacks-birthright-citizenship-are 





Constitutional Accountability Center (www.theusconstitution.org) is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history.