(Center for American Progress) — As the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, the attorney general is responsible for ensuring equal justice under the law for all Americans. But Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, the recently forced out U.S. attorney general, used his office and position to undermine the rights and freedoms of people of color. From civil rights and criminal justice, to immigration policy, Sessions, also a former Republican U.S. senator from Alabama, did not miss an opportunity to criminalize and terrorize people of color.
The American public was long aware of Sessions’ dangerous record and potential to inflict harm on communities of color. In 1986, Sessions was denied a federal judgeship due to alarming laudatory statements he made about the Ku Klux Klan and racist remarks aimed at his black colleagues. Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr., even submitted a letter warning the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee of Sessions’ record of using his power as a former U.S. attorney to “intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot.”
As a U.S. senator, Sessions routinely fought against protections for historically marginalized communities. He vehemently opposed efforts to strengthen federal hate crimes statutes, failed to protect against gender discrimination, and blocked actions to enact comprehensive bi-partisan immigration reform. These and other actions led civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus; Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA); and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), one of just three sitting African American senators, to break with tradition and testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in opposition to his appointment.