Feb 8, 2017 (WASHINGTON) Jeff Sessions has been confirmed by the United States Senate for Attorney General of the United States. This was a very contentious debate. It led to the use of rarely used rule 19 while reading a letter by Coretta Scott King, telling the Senate why Sessions should not be elevated to a federal judgeship.
Though Democrat Joe Manchin broke party ranks and joined Republicans.
Sessions was among the first Republicans to endorse Donald Trump for president and is considered a close advisor for the President. Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat, was the first to testify against another sitting senator during testimony before the Judicial Committee.
Democrats and civil rights organizations opposed him. This is part of the statement posted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) regarding that past:
Witnesses accused Sessions, then the U.S. attorney for the southern district of Alabama, of repeatedly making racially insensitive and racist remarks. Thomas Figures — a former assistant U.S. attorney in Mobile, Alabama, who worked for Sessions — told the Senate Judiciary Committee that his former boss said he thought the Ku Klux Klan was okay until he learned members smoked pot. Sessions said the comment wasn’t serious. Figures, an African-American man, also alleged that Sessions called him “boy” and told him “to be careful what you say to white folks.” Sessions denied this, too.
But Figures wasn’t alone. Visiting Mobile, Alabama, from Washington, D.C., a Justice Department lawyer heard Sessions call the ACLU “un-American” and “communist-inspired.” He also heard Sessions opine that ACLU and the NAACP “did more harm than good when they were trying to force civil rights down the throats of people who were trying to put problems behind them.” Sessions said he didn’t recall saying that but admitted he could be “loose with my tongue” at the office. Not surprisingly, a civil rights coalition of over 160 groups and members of the Alabama Legislature separately opposed the Sessions’ nomination and asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote no on the young attorney from Hybart, Alabama. In a bipartisan vote, committee members refused to confirm Sessions, making him just the second judicial nominee in 49 years to be denied confirmation by the Senate Judiciary Committee at that time.
The ACLU has vowed to sue if need be.
He was also opposed by the National Action Network,
January, 31, 2016 (Washington, DC) National Action Network (NAN), led by civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton continues to urge Senate Democrats and moderate Republicans to oppose the confirmations of Senator Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General and Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education.
From the beginning, NAN has not been satisfied with the stances of Senator Sessions on voting rights and criminal justice reform even after meeting with him. Betsy DeVos has a weak record of inclusiveness, diversity, and support for students’ civil rights. Both display a lack of commitment to protect and enforce federal laws on behalf of all Americans.
as well as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People:
“The nomination of Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to be Attorney General, to serve as chief law enforcement officer of the United States, is deeply troubling. Based on the disdain for our nation’s civil rights laws that Senator Sessions has consistently demonstrated throughout his career, his fitness to be the chief protector and enforcer of them falls into dire question.
“Senator Sessions was denied appointment as a federal judge in 1986 for a slew of racist comments, including calling the work of the NAACP and ACLU ‘Un-American.’ He has also repeatedly spoken out against the federal Voting Rights Act. We just lived through the first presidential election in over 50 years without the Act’s full protections and witnessed the suppression of millions of votes. To appoint an Attorney General who dismisses the need for these critical protections is even more despicable and unacceptable.
This was not as close as the Betsy DeVoss confirmation, insofar as the Vice-President did not have to come break the logjam and he did not lose his party. But it shows the deep divisions in the Senate and the fast-growing tensions.