Civil-Rights Groups Blast Jeff Sessions’ Record

Several major civil-rights organizations, including the NAACP and the ACLU, are expressing outrage that President-elect Donald Trump has picked Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to be the next attorney general of the United States.

A statement from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund blasted Sessions’ “decades-long record—from his early days as a prosecutor to his present role as a senator—of opposing civil rights and equality.” President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill wrote, “It is unimaginable that he could be entrusted to serve as the chief law-enforcement officer for this nation’s civil-rights laws. This is yet another signal from the incoming administration that it is not only prepared to turn its back on equality; it is actively working to continue to sow division and undo decades of progress.”

The selection followed a meeting between Trump and Sessions on Wednesday, in which Trump said he was “unbelievably impressed” with Sessions. The senator, to say the least, is a controversial choice to run the Justice Department, as he has been publicly accused of racially charged comments and actions as far back as the 1980s.

“The last person women and families need in this job is someone who has repeatedly given a pass to individuals who commit acts of violence against abortion clinics, doesn’t take sexual assault seriously, and was determined to be too racist by a GOP-led Senate to become a federal judge,” NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said in a statement Friday. “But that’s who Jeff Sessions is. His record of misogyny and racism makes him unfit to be the country’s top lawyer. The American people deserve far better, but with Donald Trump at the helm, we know we won’t get it.”

Hogue specifically blasted Sessions’ “long anti-choice record,” as well as his defense of Trump’s notorious “grab them by the pussy” moment.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero chimed in Friday with his own statement about Trump’s choice. “As a matter of organizational policy, the American Civil Liberties Union does not take a position supporting or opposing presidential or judicial nominations,” the statement read.

“We do, however, educate the American people and the Congress about nominees’ records and past positions.” Sessions has, Romero said, “called the ACLU un-American and communist, assertions we flatly reject.” Romero continued, “His positions on LGBT rights, capital punishment, abortion rights, and presidential authority in times of war have been contested by the ACLU and other civil-rights organizations. As the nation’s highest-ranking law enforcement official, the attorney general is charged with protecting the rights of all Americans.”

U.S. Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, of Illinois, issued his own passionate denouncement that caught wind on Twitter. “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,” he wrote.

“No senator has fought harder against the hopes and aspirations of Latinos, immigrants, and people of color than Sen. Sessions,” the congressman added. “He is a staunch opponent of legal immigration and someone who has blocked every effort to improve, modernize, and humanize our immigration system, which is two or three decades out-of-date.”

—Olivia Messer