Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Statement Regarding Confirmation Hearing Testimony of Sen. Jeff Sessions, Attorney General Designate

Style Magazine Newswire | 1/11/2017, 8:07 a.m.
Jackson Lee: “Sen. Sessions’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee casts serious doubt about his ability to serve as the ...

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a senior member of the House Committees on the Judiciary and Homeland Security Committee and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, released the following statement today in response to alarming concerns raised during the Senate confirmation hearing of Attorney General Designate Jeff Session, U.S. Senator from Alabama:

“Sen. Sessions’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee casts serious doubt about his ability to serve as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and defender of the civil rights and liberties of all Americans, the most vulnerable and powerless in society.

“Serving coming to the U.S. Senate in 1997, Sen. Sessions, as current chair of the Immigration Subcommittee within the Senate Judiciary Committee, has for years been the key bridge between the anti-immigrant movement and Congress. His voting record raises grave concerns about his long-held and disturbing stances on voting rights, civil liberties, mass incarceration, criminal justice and immigration reform, climate change, women, and the LGBTQ community. Sen. Sessions has opposed efforts prohibiting the use of torture, supported banning persons from entering the United States based on their religion, criticized Supreme Court decision upholding the principle of marriage equality.

“A key responsibility of the U.S. Attorney General is to oversee the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, which is charged with enforcing the nation’s laws protecting civil rights and voting rights. The U.S. Attorney General has a significant role in immigration enforcement and adjudication, including setting policy, through the oversight of the immigration court system and the appointment of immigration judges. Senator Sessions has opposed civil rights legislation and led anti-immigrant efforts throughout his Senate career. He is one of the Senate’s most hostile opponents of comprehensive immigration reform and was a principal architect of the draconian and incendiary immigration policy advocated by the President-Elect during the campaign.

“Sen. Sessions was one of the leading opponents of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. He supports defunding Planned Parenthood but does not support the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade. And his record in support of efforts to bring needed reform to the nation’s criminal justice system is virtually non-existent.

“If confirmed, Sessions would have broad latitude to define how federal prosecutors across the country wield their powers and make changes to the Justice Department's priorities. On all the issues and matters covered by the Department of Justice, Sen. Sessions’s record provide little or no reassurance that he would work to advance the historic mission of the Justice Department in the areas of civil rights and liberties, voting rights, immigration, criminal justice reform, environmental protection, equal employment opportunity, national security, antitrust, and fair housing.

“Sen. Sessions opposed a bipartisan criminal justice reform package that would reduce draconian federal sentences and has opposed programs and policies that would help eliminate racial disparities in employment, educational attainment, or incarceration rates. Senator Sessions has opposed criminal justice reform, supported strict sentences for drug offenders, and expressed skepticism about the need for special federal civil rights protections for LGBT people. While Sessions worked with Democrats in 2001 to reduce sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine, he has stood against making those sentences retroactive. He also blocked broader drug sentencing reform last year, and he has criticized the Obama administration for the commutations it has granted.