Senate Democrats have been going easy on Sen. Jeff Sessions because he is one of their own. Sen. Cory Booker broke with “senatorial courtesy,” by testifying and telling the truth about Sen. Sessions’ record on civil rights.
Video of Sen. Booker’s testimony:
Booker said, “I know that some of my colleagues are unhappy that I’m breaking with Senate tradition to testify against the nomination of one of my colleagues. But I believe, like perhaps all of my colleagues, that in the choice between standing with Senate norms or standing up for what my conscience tells me is best for our country, I will always choose conscience and country.”
Later Sen. Booker unloaded on Sessions’ civil rights record:
Senator Sessions has not demonstrated a commitment to a central requirement of the job – to aggressively pursue the congressional mandate of civil rights, equal rights, and justice for all. In fact, at numerous times in his career, he has demonstrated a hostility toward these convictions, and has worked to frustrate attempts to advance these ideals.
If confirmed, Senator Sessions will be required to pursue justice for women, but his record indicates that he won’t.
He will be expected to defend the equal rights of gay and lesbian Americans, but his record indicates that he won’t.
He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won’t.
He will be expected to defend the rights of immigrants and affirm their human dignity, but his record indicates he won’t.
His record indicates that as Attorney General he would obstruct the growing national bipartisan movement toward criminal justice reform.
His record indicates that we cannot count on him to support state and national efforts toward bringing justice to a justice system that people on both sides of the aisle readily admit is biased against the poor, drug-addicted, mentally ill, and people of color.
His record indicates that at a time when even the FBI director is speaking out about implicit racial bias in policing and the need to address it; at a time when the last two Attorneys General have taken steps to fix our broken criminal justice system; and at a time when the Justice Department he would lead has uncovered systemic abuses in police departments all over the United States including Ferguson, including Newark; Senator Sessions would not continue to lead urgently needed change.
The next Attorney General must bring hope and healing to our country, and this demands a more courageous empathy than Senator Sessions’ record demonstrates.
Challenges of race in America cannot be addressed if we refuse to confront them.
Persistent biases cannot be defeated unless we combat them.
The arc of the universe does not just naturally curve toward justice – we must bend it.
These are the words that Democrats were waiting to hear at the Sessions confirmation hearings. After years of Republicans disrespecting President Obama, the last thing that rank and file Democrats wanted to see was Senate Democrats demonstrating senatorial courtesy towards Jeff Sessions. As attorney general, Sessions will undo the progress of the civil rights movement.
More Democrats need to be like Cory Booker and take an active stand against Jeff Sessions serving as the nation’s next attorney general. On this issue, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) was a Democrat that members of his party could be proud of.