Only today, I read an op-ed piece from an ostensibly liberal columnist who defended Attorney General Nominee Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (no shit, that’s his actual name!) against the decades-old allegations of racism, citing his support of fair drug sentencing guidelines and efforts to convict two KKK members who’d viciously murdered a black man. Oh, did you know that he even voted to confirm previous Attorney General Eric Holder? This poor man has been trying to clear his name for twenty long years, after being smeared by detractors who offered no proof that he’d uttered any of the vile things he was accused of.
After all, his record speaks for itself. Oh boy, does it speak for itself.
His first blip on the radar came in 1985, when then-U.S. Attorney Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, The Third, presided over the indictment of a group of volunteer activists known as the Marion Three. Most notable of the three defendants was Albert Turner, former adviser to Martin Luther King, Jr. and a principal organizer of the 1965 voting rights march in Selma, Alabama which came to be remembered as “Bloody Sunday.” During a September, 1984 primary election, Turner, his wife Evelyn and fellow activist Spencer Hogue went around to elderly black voter’s houses, collecting their absentee ballots & sometimes helping illiterate voters mark their choices correctly. When they brought the 500 or so envelopes to the post office, they were greeted by a task force of FBI agents and other law enforcement officials, and arrested for voter fraud.
Thankfully, the Marion Three were acquitted of all charges, but not before sick and elderly black voters were dragged into court to testify on the matter. The presiding judge threw out more than half of the charges presented before they even came before a jury, citing a complete lack of any credible evidence. One of his Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Thomas Figures, resigned his position in protest over this perversion of the legal system. This case quickly came back to haunt Sessions during his Federal Judgeship confirmation hearings, where his character was called into question. No fewer than four of his fellow U.S. Department of Justice attorneys testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Sessions had made racially offensive remarks in their presence. During these confirmation hearings, Alabama Senator and committee member Howell Heflin, previously a supporter of Sessions’ nomination, came to oppose and vote against him, citing “reasonable doubts” regarding Jefferson Beauregard’s ability to preside in a “fair and impartial” manner.
But, luckily for Jethro, Alabama will be Alabama. Criticism by Senator Ted Kennedy, who called him “a throwback to a shameful era” and “a disgrace”, only seemed to lend him support from Alabama’s white conservative voters, and he won the office of State Attorney General in 1994. Still riding the wave of popular white support in 1996, he won the U.S. Senate seat made vacant by the retirement of that same Howell Heflin who had opposed his Federal Judgeship a decade before. Oh, the bitter irony.
Jeff Sessions (though I prefer to call him “Beauregard”) has made no secret of his civil rights opposition. During his failed confirmation hearing in 1986, he repeatedly stood by his characterization of the Voting Rights Act as a “piece of intrusive legislation.” Witnesses have testified to him calling the NAACP “un-American” and responding to the allegation that a judge had referred to (white) attorney James Blacksher as a “disgrace to his race” for representing black clients, by saying “Well, maybe he is.”
This is a man who voted against funding science-based sex education for high school students, and providing contraceptives. A paragon of virtue, he voted against renewing the Violence Against Women Act, and against renewing subsidies for businesses owned by women. My man Beauregard voted to defund Planned Parenthood, of course, but it gets even better. Jay-Bo voted for a 20-week abortion ban, and against protections against clinic violence. Further, he’s shown that he’s an advocate of clinic violence, by repeatedly voting to allow violent, convicted anti-abortion offenders to escape paying their court-levied fines by declaring bankruptcy!
As a protector and ally, he voted against expanding the definition of “hate crime” to include LGBTQ victims, the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” and voted in favor of a Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. While still Attorney General of Alabama, he actively worked to deny equal school sponsorship of the Gay-Straight Alliance clubs at state universities. His reasoning? “An organization that professes to be comprised of homosexuals and/or lesbians may not receive state funding or use state-supported facilities to foster or promote those illegal, sexually deviate activities defined in the sodomy and sexual misconduct laws”
He maintains his theme by not only opposing any path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, but drastic reduction of legal immigration. In a 2006 speech on the Senate floor, he stated that “Fundamentally, almost no one coming from the Dominican Republic to the United States is coming because they have a skill that would benefit us and that would indicate their likely success in our society.”
Sessions isn’t just a climate change denier, he’s an evil super-villain enemy of the environment. He’s voted in favor of legislation that would ban the Environmental Protection Agency from regulation greenhouse gas emissions (“Carbon pollution is CO2, and that’s really not a pollutant; that’s a plant food, and it doesn’t harm anybody except that it might include temperature increases,”) and voted to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling. Of note, the largest donor during his last re-election campaign was The Southern Company – the second-largest utility company in the country.
Jeff Sessions was one of only nine U.S. Senators to vote against Senator John McCain’s bill prohibiting the U.S. military from engaging in torture. The bill passed 90-9. Better still, he was one of only three Senators who voted against increasing funding for the Veterans Administration. A true patriot, this guy. Oh yeah, he voted against confirming every single Obama nomination for Supreme Court Justice positions, as a member of his former nemesis, the Senate Judiciary Committee – a body that once held that he wasn’t fit to be a judge.
To cap it all off, he immediately came to the defense of Donald Trump in the wake of “Pussygate” while declaring “I don’t characterize that as sexual assault. I think that’s a stretch. I don’t know what he meant…”
Ladies and gentlemen, meet your next United States Attorney General.