Editorial: Appointing Sessions Would Be a Mistake

The appointment of Senator Jeff Sessions to the Department of Justice is akin to asking the wolf to watch the sheep. That is not an exaggeration.

El senador republicano por Alabama, Jeff Sessions, fue nombrado por Trump como próximo fiscal general.
El senador republicano por Alabama, Jeff Sessions, fue nombrado por Trump como próximo fiscal general.
Foto: María Peña / Impremedia

President-elect Donald Trump wants to assign the leadership of the agency in charge of defending civil rights to a person with a long history of opposing racial minorities and immigrants.

If the Republican legislator for Alabama is confirmed by the Senate, the Justice Department will make a 180-degree turn in its priorities.

Sessions has criticized President Barack Obama’s policy of investigating police agencies and to make consent decrees for civil rights violations. The efforts to eliminate private prisons are at risk. Local priorities of prevention and inmate rehabilitation could yield to punitive and punishment-based strategies against delinquency.

Voting rights protection is in danger. Although Sessions was one of 98 senators who voted in 2006 to extend the Voting Rights Act (VRA), he opposed the clause that required federal oversight to be applied to states with a history of racial discrimination, incorrectly stating that this problem was solved.

In 1985, while he was district attorney, Sessions maliciously used the VRA to process Martin Luther King collaborators promoting the African-American vote. On other occasions, he said that the law was “intrusive” and that it only aimed to obtain “certain political results.”

That is why it is believed that the Justice Department’s priority will go from protecting voters’ access to the ballot to blocking them with the excuse of a non-existent fraud.

Regarding immigration, Sessions is a nightmare. He agrees with the idea of taking citizenship away from the U.S.-born children of undocumented people, and to ban Muslims from entering the country. From his new position, he will have the power to remove immigration judges whom he does not deem sufficiently tough and to change asylum conditions, among other things.

In 1986, Sessions was the first nominated judge rejected by the Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary in 48 years. Basically, the GOP-led upper chamber of the day opposed Ronald Reagan’s nominee for federal judge due to his racism.

Times have changed but, as a senator, Sessions demonstrated to be the same person he was before. A racist yesterday, he is still a racist today. That is why it is an infamy that he is now being nominated to lead the Justice Department and to protect civil rights.