10 Reasons Jeff Sessions Is a Disastrous Pick for Attorney General

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January 9, 2017
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The Department of Justice has the responsibility of protecting the rights and liberties of all Americans. As the head of the DOJ and the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, the Attorney General serves one of the most important roles in the entire federal government. 

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions has a long history of open hostility towards civil rights advances and has routinely opposed basic protections for LGBT people, people of color, women, immigrants and people with disabilities.

That’s why Lambda Legal strongly opposes the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General of the United States.

Tomorrow, January 10th, and on Wednesday, January 11th, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold confirmation hearings on Sen. Sessions’s nomination by President-Elect Trump to become the attorney general of the United States.

Below are just some examples from Senator Sessions’s long record of extremism, which illustrate how demonstrably unfit he is to serve as Attorney General.

1. In 1996, as Alabama’s Attorney General, he tried to block a student conference about LGBT issues from taking place at the University of Alabama. The university’s leadership said they believed the First Amendment and principles of academic freedom protected the students’ right to hold the Southeastern Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual College Conference meeting on campus. But, according to the Huntsville Times, he said he intended to do everything he could “to stop that conference.” When a federal judge agreed with students that the First Amendment does protect their right to free speech on LGBT issues, he disagreed and tried, unsuccessfully, for a different answer from the Eleventh Circuit.

2. In 2004, he said that he believes “children are more likely to be healthy in two-parent homes, and there is less government dependence when people are in families led by married parents.” In 2006, he stated that he believes marriage equality is a “threat,” that it weakens the institution of marriage, and has also vowed to “fight to defend marriage as between a man and a woman.” He has consistently supported a constitutional amendment to prevent states from recognizing the freedom to marry and to engrave the discriminatory principles of the Defense of Marriage Act into our country's most sacred document.

3. In 2009, he voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. At the time he said he didn’t believe the law was “compelled by the facts that are happening in America today.”

4. In 2013, he voted against reauthorization for the Violence Against Women Act, which protects and individuals from domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual assault.

5. In March of 2015, he voted against the Schatz Amendment to the FY 2016 Budget Resolution, which would have ensured that same-sex couples have equal rights to social security and veteran’s benefits.

6. He is a co-sponsor of the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill that should be called the “Fostering American Discrimination Act.” FADA would allow individuals and some institutions to disregard otherwise applicable laws and rules if doing so is prompted by particular religious beliefs or moral convictions concerning marriage or non-marital sexual relations.

7. In 2015, he said “it is a real problem when we have Black Lives Matter making statements that are really radical, that are absolutely false, and then being invited to the White House.”

8. He opposed the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) and voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

9. He has called for the end of birthright citizenship and voted against the DREAM Act, which would have provided a way for immigrants who came to the United States as children to earn their citizenship.

10. Sessions called the Voting Rights Act a “piece of intrusive legislation.”

Senator Jeff Sessions is unfit to enforce our nation’s civil right laws. Call your senators now and tell them to #StopSessions.