On Thursday, Attorney-General Jeff Sessions told Federal Prosecutors he is committed to prosecuting hate crimes. Why don’t I believe him?
During Sessions’ speech he pledged “to protect the civil rights of all Americans — and we will not tolerate the targeting of any community in our country” I feel so much better about the rise in hate crimes since the election. No, I don’t. It’s because the evidence contradicts his words. The context is in reference to a successful prosecution of a hate crime in Mississippi where a transgender woman was murdered.
And according to Josh Gerstein, Sessions “reached out to make sure the Justice Department is making every effort to assist in the investigations into a string of transgender killings in recent months.”
Certainly one can acknowledge the importance and value of recognizing that crimes against transgender people because they are transgender qualify as hate crimes and should be prosecuted as such.
Yet, I can’t bring myself to take Sessions at his word, perhaps in part because of the Republican obsession with bathroom policy and conversion therapy. But it doesn’t end there.
Seriously, when an Attorney-General says they will protect the civil rights of all Americans, one should be able to take them at their word. Yet, that’s a tall order when it comes to Jeff Sessions – the man who was cool with the KKK until he found out members smoked pot.
This is the same Jeff Sessions whose bid for a seat on the Federal bench failed largely, if not exclusively, because he not only tolerated the targeting of some communities, he led the targeting.
In 1986, Coretta Scott King wrote a letter explaining why she believed Sessions lacked the temperament, judgement and fairness to be a judge. The man she talked about targeted certain communities for doing nothing more than registering to vote.
Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.
As Buzzfeed reported at the time, Scott-King’s letter wasn’t entered into the record by Strom Thurmond, the committee chair at the time.
Since becoming Attorney-General, Sessions’ actions directly contradict a statement that few would quarrel with. “No person should have to fear being violently attacked because of who they are, what they believe, or how they worship.”
Yet, Sessions joins Trump in an effort to erase the very existence of the Obama Administration. One of his first acts was to issue a memo vowing to review everything – including consent decrees.
In a powerfully written article he wrote in April, Jamelle Bouie noted:
Blaming police reform for an uptick in violent crime rates, Sessions wants to end federal oversight of local and state police, as part of his—and President Trump’s—drive for “law and order.
Since Sessions made a point of saying in his memo that his DOJ would reflect the values of the Trump administration, the actions and attitudes of Donald Trump become relevant to an assessment of Sessions believability when he says he is committed to protecting the civil rights of every member of every community in America.
We know about the statements Trump made during the campaign in hopes of appealing to people who don’t respect people from communities that are targeted by hate crimes. Trump couldn’t bring himself to admit that Jews were victimized by the Holocaust and for awhile there, he retweeted white supremacists frequently.
The Trump administration froze funding to groups that fight right wing terrorism and white supremacy.
It’s notable that Trump broke with the tradition of presidents hosting Ramadan dinner.
When victims of terrorist acts are Muslims, he’s silent. As noted by Astead W. Herndon, following the London attack,
Nearly 14 hours after a driver plowed through Muslim worshippers outside of a London mosque, killing at least one, Trump’s usually noisy personal Twitter account was uncharacteristically silent. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in an off-camera press briefing that the administration’s “thoughts and prayers” were with those affected, but Trump personally had not weighed in using any format.
Sessions saw what happened to Sally Yates when she upheld the law by telling our infantile president the one word that results in temper tantrums and in more ways than one he is proving he lacks Yates integrity. It’s that lack of integrity that explains Sessions partnering with Kris Kobach on vote suppression – which is clearly in violation of the U.S. constitution. Vanita Gupta tweeted the letter.
— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) June 29, 2017
As Gupta notes, the letter states an intent to suppress the vote: plain and simple.
This is yet another example that while Sessions talks the talk of an Attorney-General dedicated to protecting the civil rights of all communities, he remains the same Jeff Sessions who targeted certain communities for suppression and denial of their rights.
This is the Jeff Sessions many of us knew about and warned about. He’s the same one Coretta Scott King warned about in her 1986 letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. What Sessions is doing to civil rights is turning them into civil privileges a complete and total contradiction to the very spirit and intent of what civil rights are.
Everything about Sessions actions says his DOJ is there to rubber stamp and carry water for the child president.
RIP Civil Rights.
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.