It is a sad symptom of the divisiveness of our current era that many Senate Democrats may choose not to confirm a legal scholar and public servant because their extreme political base opposes some of the nominee’s policy viewpoints. In a long-gone era, the affirmative vote to confirm Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as the 84th Attorney General of the United States would have been overwhelming and bipartisan in light of his long career in the Department of Justice, his distinguished service as Alabama’s Attorney General, his multi-decade work on the Senate Judiciary Committee overseeing the Department of Justice, and his thirteen years in the U.S. Army Reserves. I strongly urge members of the U.S. Senate, particularly those on the Left, to set aside political interests and prioritize justice for all Americans.
Any claim that Senator Sessions lacks the experience or love of country necessary for this role is laughable at best. He has devoted nearly his entire adult life to public service and most of that service has directly related to the Department of Justice, serving Presidents of both parties, first as an Assistant U.S. Attorney from 1975-1977 and then as a U.S. Attorney from 1981-1995. As a Senator, he has spent 20 years supervising the work of the Department of Justice as part of the Judiciary Committee. This is precisely the type of person with the range of experience that we want leading the department that is charged with upholding the rule of law. Indeed, I cannot recall a recent nominee for the position of Attorney General who can match Senator Sessions’ direct experience with the Department.
Likely because Senator Sessions’ level of experience is unassailable and counsels strongly in favor of confirmation, opponents have tried to denigrate the Senator’s character and accuse him of holding views that are outside the mainstream of our American political spectrum. This is absolute and total nonsense. We have a nominee who worked arm in arm with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to reduce the disparity in crack-cocaine sentencing; who joined with the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) to shepherd prison reform that helped prevent the frequency of prison rape; who along with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) led the effort to award the Congressional Medal of Honor to the Foot Soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama; who voted in favor of a 30-year extension of the Civil Rights Act; and who spent years helping to prosecute Ku Klux Klan members for the murders of African-Americans and ensuring the availability and use of the death penalty for those crimes. While it is certainly fair game for people to disagree with Senator Sessions on a particular issue of policy or on his interpretive approach to the law, it is beyond the pale to recast such disagreements into an attack on his character or his commitment to the rule of law, equal opportunity and respect for the rights of all Americans.
If Senate Democrats are interested in scoring political points and filling their campaign coffers with donations from Planned Parenthood and MoveOn.Org, then we will see a close confirmation vote. If on the other hand they are interested in whether the President’s nominee has the ability and desire to faithfully discharge the duties of Attorney General, the vote will be overwhelmingly in favor of confirming Senator Sessions. Indeed, this confirmation vote will tell us far more about whether those Democratic Senators opposing his nomination are prioritizing politics over justice than it will tell us about Jeff Sessions.