Tell the Senate to reject Jeff Sessions as Attorney General

Jeff Sessions' history of voter suppression and racist comments disqualify him to lead the Department of Justice

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SIGN THE PETITION: Americans deserve a Department of Justice that vigilantly defends and advances every American's right to vote. Sen. Jeff Sessions' record and positions are hostile to that mission and to a democracy that represents us all. Please vote to reject Jeff Sessions' nomination for Attorney General.

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SIGN THE PETITION: Americans deserve a Department of Justice that vigilantly defends and advances every American's right to vote. Sen. Jeff Sessions' record and positions are hostile to that mission and to a democracy that represents us all. Please vote to reject Jeff Sessions' nomination for Attorney General.

The Department of Justice is one of the most important offices in the country. We trust the DOJ to protect what makes America special -- our right to vote, and the equal treatment of all Americans before the law.

Donald Trump’s nominee to lead that agency, Sen. Jeff Sessions, has spent his entire political life doing the exact opposite. He’s unfit to be Attorney General, and we must speak out to stop him.

Common Cause, the nonpartisan citizens lobby group working for a democracy that represents everyone, rarely opposes presidential nominations. But in nominating Sen. Sessions, President-elect Trump is entrusting our civil and voting rights to a man who fundamentally opposes them.

Here’s why we can’t afford to let Jeff Sessions run the Department of Justice:

  • The DOJ is tasked with enforcing the Voting Rights Act, the most significant voting rights advancement in our nation’s history, which protects Americans from discrimination at the polls. But Sessions has called it an “intrusive piece of legislation” and applauded the Supreme Court’s decision to gut crucial VRA protections. We can’t trust him to enforce this vitally important voting rights law -- having Jeff Sessions as Attorney General would effectively repeal the Voting Rights Act.

  • The Department of Justice has the responsibility to protect every American’s right to vote. Jeff Sessions has spent his career undermining that right. As a U.S. Attorney in Alabama, he prosecuted three civil rights activists organizing voter registration drives in a mostly Black county on frivolous allegations of voter fraud that were quickly thrown out by a jury. Today, he still supports discriminatory policies like strict Voter ID that make it hard for Americans to have a voice in our democracy.

  • Our democracy relies on equal treatment of all Americans. The Department of Justice is in charge of making sure this happens. Sessions’ history of bigoted and racist comments show he cannot lead that effort. That history has already led the Senate to deem him too racist to be a federal judge in 1986. Worse, his policies would disproportionately hurt people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ Americans, and others -- especially with the weight of our top law enforcement agency behind them.

The Department of Justice’s mission is simply too important to turn over to someone like Jeff Sessions. Sign the petition to demand the Senate they oppose his nomination. Jeff Sessions' confirmation hearings are January 10th and 11th, so speak out now.

You or I aren’t going to like or agree with every nominee of every president -- our system works when presidents can fulfill their appointments with qualified candidates. That’s why we rarely oppose appointees.

But a Department of Justice led by Jeff Sessions would be so far beyond the pale, and pose such a threat to our democratic values, that we must do everything in our power to stop him. Even if he’s confirmed, we’ll fight vigorously to ensure he fulfills his duty to uphold the principles our democracy requires -- like the right to vote, inclusion of all Americans, and equal protection before the law -- and hold him accountable whenever he falls short.

Read More: Jeff Sessions Becomes One of Few Presidential Nominees Ever Opposed by Common Cause in 46 Years

Today, Common Cause announced it opposition to the nomination of Sen. Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III (R-AL) to serve as U.S. Attorney General, deeming him unfit to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement officer. Senator Sessions has for decades been an outspoken critic of the Voting Rights Act, one of this country’s most critical pieces of civil and voting rights legislation, which paved the way for an inclusive democracy.

“The Voting Rights Act is on the chopping block with the nomination of Senator Sessions and recent victories in the courts striking down laws designed to suppress minority voting would be threatened under a Sessions-led Justice Department,” said Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn. “Common Cause had opposed presidential nominees only a handful of times in our 46-year history, but Senator Sessions is a longtime critic of too many of the laws he would be charged with enforcing as Attorney General.”

Common Cause previously opposed the nominations of Robert Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court, John Tower as Secretary of Defense and Ed Meese as U.S. Attorney General. The nominations of Bork and Tower were rejected by the U.S. Senate. Meese was confirmed and served as Attorney General but resigned from office over his role in a defense contracting scandal.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled hearings on the Sessions nomination that will be held on January 10 and 11, more than a week before President-elect Trump is even sworn into office. This is the same committee that has for nearly a year refused to even hold hearings on President Obama’s nominee to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The Senate Judiciary Committee has no business ramming through the nomination on an expedited schedule before President-elect Trump is even sworn into office,” said Flynn. “The fact that a previous Republican-controlled U.S. Senate rejected Sessions’ nomination for a federal judgeship because of a series of racially insensitive or racist language should give the Senate pause. It would be irresponsible of the Senate to rush to confirm a suspect nominee simply because he is a fellow member of what has been referred to as ‘the world’s most exclusive club.’ Sessions’ questionable record should be carefully reviewed before the Senate rubber stamps the same man it found unfit to be a federal judge years ago.”

In 1986, Sessions’ nomination to U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama was rejected by a Republican-controlled U.S. Senate. After listening to extensive testimony about controversial statements made and actions taken by Sessions, the Judiciary Committee could not even muster enough votes to pass the nomination on to the full Senate without recommendation.

For his recent nomination, Sen. Sessions did not even complete his questionnaire. Among other things, the Senator omitted inclusion of dozens of recent interviews, including some given to Breitbart and others as recent as October of 2016 in which he excuses president-elect Trump’s statements condoning sexual assault. Content aside, such omissions amount to a process violation. In 2010, when the Senator himself reviewed submissions from a judicial nominee, he noted that the incomplete response was “potentially disqualifying” and a criminal offense. “Sen. Sessions’ cannot contend for the nation’s chief lawyer without playing by the rules,” President Hobert Flynn noted.

Sen. Sessions additionally tries to create for himself a civil rights record that simply does not exist. As three former DOJ attorneys noted in a recent op-ed, Sen. Sessions completed no substantive work on at least three of the four cases he claimed, in his recent questionnaire, his most significant civil rights cases. Tellingly, Sen. Sessions failed to include these same cases in his questionnaire for his 1986 nomination to a federal judgeship. “It’s clear,” President Hobert Flynn stated, “that the Senator is trying to develop a record that doesn’t exist. He did it when prosecuting three activists for voter fraud despite the dearth of evidence, and he’s doing it now to try to fool his colleagues. America’s elected representatives must call it out for what it is: an unsuccessful attempt to gain an unearned office.”

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SIGN THE PETITION: Americans deserve a Department of Justice that vigilantly defends and advances every American's right to vote. Sen. Jeff Sessions' record and positions are hostile to that mission and to a democracy that represents us all. Please vote to reject Jeff Sessions' nomination for Attorney General.

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