Attorney General Jeff Sessions? A "Direct Attack" on Nation's Minorities

President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly chosen Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to be attorney general of the United States, raising concern and ire among civil rights advocates who said the former federal prosecutor’s record is marred by racism as well as anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

“If you have nostalgia for the days when blacks kept quiet, gays were in the closet, immigrants were invisible, and women stayed in the kitchen, Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is your man,” Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) declared in a searing statement. “No senator has fought harder against the hopes and aspirations of Latinos, immigrants, and people of color than Sen. Sessions.”

“It is outrageous and outright dangerous to have one of the most racist politicians in Congress, who has made it his life’s mission to hurt Latinos, immigrants, and African Americans, as the head of the Department of Justice.”
—Cristobal J. Alex, Latino Victory Fund

Trump’s pick to head the U.S. Justice Department—who must be confirmed by the Senate—”has a long history of opposition to civil rights,” The Nation‘s Ari Berman wrote on Friday.

“The Senate rejected Sessions for a federal judgeship during the Reagan administration because of racist statements he made and for falsely prosecuting black political activists in Alabama,” Berman noted. “He opposed the Voting Rights Act, the country’s most important civil rights law.”

Even before Sessions got the nod, the Los Angeles Times reported on how, under a Trump administration, experts “predict the Justice Department…will be less likely to sue states over voting restrictions that target the poor or minorities, to hold police departments accountable for abuses, or fight in court for the rights of transgender people.”

“Also vulnerable,” wrote the LA Times, “are Justice Department guidelines set under President [Barack] Obama that sought more lenient sentences for nonviolent offenders and restricted racial profiling and surveillance of Muslims.”

With conservative Sessions at the helm, those predictions seem even more prescient.

The Washington Post reported Friday:

The ACLU’s statement on Sessions reflected similar anxieties.

“Sen. Sessions has called the ACLU un-American and communist, assertions we flatly reject,” said ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero on Friday.