Sessions: A big nomination fight ahead
Donald Trump evidently wants to “put the white back in White House,” said Michael Tomasky in TheDailyBeast.com. The president-elect last week nominated Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as his attorney general—a man deemed “too racist to be a federal judge.” In 1986, the Senate Judiciary Committee blocked the then–U.S. attorney’s nomination after hearing testimony that he addressed a black assistant U.S. attorney as “boy” and warned him to “be careful what you say to white folks,” and denounced the NAACP and ACLU as “un-American” and “communistinspired.” The four-term U.S. senator—full name Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III—built his reputation prosecuting black civil rights activists on trumped-up voter fraud charges and has described the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act as “intrusive legislation.” Sessions’ nomination confirms our worst fears about Trump’s “white nationalist” administration, said Scott Lemieux in NewRepublic.com. If this Confederate flag–waver is approved by the Senate, say goodbye to police, antitrust, and civil rights prosecutions, and watch the Justice Department lead a witch hunt against phony “voter fraud” involving minorities.
Sessions is no racist, said Mark Hemingway in WeeklyStandard.com. He “vehemently denied” calling his colleague “boy” and insisted the other comments were “taken out of context.” As a U.S. attorney, he led legal efforts to desegregate schools in Alabama, and successfully prosecuted the son of a Klan leader for murder—a case that ultimately helped “break the back of the KKK in Alabama.” Sessions is a “sensible pick” for attorney general, said National Review.com in an editorial. Under President Obama, the Department of Justice and its “activist” civil rights division interfered with local police decisions and “exhibited a special contempt for the rule of law.” Sessions has focused his career on “law and order,” and is just the man to restore integrity to the Justice Department.
The Trump loyalist will certainly wield extraordinary power, said Mark Joseph Stern in Slate.com. If the past is prologue, Sessions will simply refuse to enforce federal civil rights law, hate crimes law, and marriage equality, and let states do as they please. Sessions’ confirmation hearing will be the president-elect’s “first big fight,” said Jennifer Rubin in WashingtonPost.com. Senate Democrats won’t be able to block him without Republican votes, but the hearings will be ugly and divisive. “The question is how big a toll it will take on an administration barely getting its feet wet.”