Our show on Tuesday, January 3, 2017 will examine the nomination by President Elect Donald J. Trump of Senator Jefferson B. Sessions to be the 84th Attorney General of the United States. In this New Year of 2017, the Igniting Change Radio Show is committed to providing education and information about the appointments, nominations, policies and practices of the new Donald J. Trump Administration and what can be done by our listeners to fight for racial, gender, economic and environmental justice.
Currently, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold hearings on January 10-11th, 2017 on the Sessions nomination. Even though the President Elect can nominate candidates for positions, especially members of the cabinet, the Senate Judiciary Committee has to independently confirm or reject each nomination. The Transformative Justice Coalition has joined other civil rights organizations in opposing this nomination as Sen. Sessions has a record spanning decades of hostility to a broad range of civil rights laws. Our guests will include Terry O’Neill, President of the National Organization for Women; Rev. Rodney Sadler, Leader of North Carolina’s Moral Monday Movement; and other social justice leaders.
By statute, the Attorney General of the United States is the head of the United State’s Department of Justice; the nation’s chief law enforcement officer; and the lawyer for the United States who argues cases on behalf of the federal government. In addition, the Attorney General supervises the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). The Annual Budget of the Department of Justice is $29 billion dollars: 49% law enforcement, 30% prisons, 12% litigation and the remainder for other functions and grants . Personnel comprises over 118,000 agents, lawyers, officers and others.
In 1985 the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected the nomination of Jefferson Sessions to become a federal district judge based on his racially biased statements and prosecutions of voting rights activists. In particular, he has demonstrated hostility to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Moreover, Sen. Sessions has also made statements of hostility to women’s rights, disability rights, LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights and criminal justice reform. He has a long and troubling record of affinity with White supremacist hate groups. He has on several occasions called the ACLU “unAmerican” and derided the work of other civil rights groups including the NAACP. In addition, Sen.Sessions has failed to complete his questionnaire for the Senate Judiciary Committee, in particular leaving out his speeches and associations with the White supremacist groups.
Based on his record, it is very unlikely that Sen. Sessions will follow in the path of Attorney Generals Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch in seeking to reduce the mass incarceration of people of color by implementing the Smart on Crime policy which would not charge and prosecute persons for minor and non-violent crimes. Indeed, under AG Lynch, the DOJ has been implementing policies to reduce reliance on private prisons except for immigrant incarceration. Nor is Sen. Sessions to be expected to fight President Elect Trump’s plans for the nationalization of Stop and Frisk which will effectively increase racial profiling. Other criminal justice reforms, including pattern or practice investigations of police departments are likely to decrease.
Our guests will discuss Sen. Session’s unfitness to be the Attorney General and why his nomination should be rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The show will also focus on what actions individuals and organizations can take to make their voices heard about this nomination.
The Transformative Justice Coalition has posted a Petition of Opposition to the Nomination of Sen. Jefferson Sessions to be the 84th Attorney General of the United States and urges individuals and organizations to sign onto this document: www. tjcoalition.org. The petition goes into detail about the adverse voting rights record of Sen. Sessions and urges the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject this nomination.
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