Raising the Standard at UGA since 2013.

Attorney General Sessions: Categorizing the Controversy

Jeff Sessions in action. Photo Credit to Wikipedia.

Trump’s appointee for attorney general, former Senator Jeff Sessions, has been confirmed in a relatively close vote by the Senate. With this, Sessions assumes a role as the nation’s legal compass and the head of the Department of Justice. In doing so, he will replace Dana Boente who was recently sworn in as acting attorney general after the firing of former acting attorney general and University of Georgia graduate, Sally Yates. Yates was unceremoniously discharged from her position for refusing to defend Trump’s executive order that temporarily restricted immigration from countries identified by the Obama Administration as hotbeds for terrorism.

Sessions’ character was under fire by Democrats during his confirmation hearing as claims that he had previously made racist remarks led those both on the left and the right to question his ability to serve as an unbiased upholder of the law. The Republican from Alabama is no stranger to such accusations and skepticism, as they previously resulted in his failure to receive approval by the Senate Committee in 1986 when he was President Ronald Reagan’s nominee for the U.S. District Judge of the Southern District of Alabama. But how could a man who spent a large portion of his career fighting for civil rights be the victim of such heavy condemnation?

The protesters present at Sessions’ committee hearing—dressed as members of the Ku Klux Klan—were reminders of the racist accusations made against Sessions in the past. Some critics even went as far as to claim he supported the Klan.

Thomas Figures, a former Assistant US attorney who worked under Sessions, accused Sessions of making pro-KKK remarks. This and other related claims were ultimately dismissed as hearsay, a logical conclusion considering Sessions was prosecuting the KKK at the time.

Sessions’ controversial involvement with civil rights activists, which included prosecution of a former aide to Martin Luther King Jr. in Perry county, are often pointed to as a manifestation of his prejudice. Sessions began investigation of discrepancies in absentee balloting in Perry county per the request of the local district attorney and a black candidate from the black-and-white coalition. After an investigation, which involved the aid of the FBI, the “Marion Three” were indicted on 29 counts of mail fraud, conspiracy to commit voting fraud, and voting more than once. Ultimately the three were acquitted by the jury. Sessions was not the only one to take action in Perry county. After dodging accusations of voter fraud for decades, Perry county was investigated in 2008 by federal officials after locals brought to light multiple instances where Democratic county officials paid individuals for their votes or encouraged repeat voting. Sessions’ prosecution of the activists, in the end, was not an act of racism but rather an attempt to right a wrong in the democratic system.

Trump’s appointment of Sessions as attorney general comes as no surprise as the two hold astoundingly similar views on many of the more contentious topics from the election campaigns. Trump’s stance on issues such as immigration and the ‘police brutality’ movement garnered Sessions’ support from early on in his campaign. Even with Democrats dragging their heels during Sessions’ confirmation process, Sessions won the approval of the Senate. Ultimately, his record for supporting rather than hindering civil rights outshines the hateful rhetoric that has been used by those on the left to paint Sessions as a racist and a bigot. As Trump’s most contentious nominee (except for Betsy DeVos, technically), Sessions’ every move as attorney general will likely be heavily scrutinized by many skeptical left-wing media outlets, a silver lining for even his toughest critics.

— Nicole Divers is a freshman studying political science and economics. She is a first-time contributor to THE ARCH CONSERVATIVE. 

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