Sessions confirmed as US attorney general despite staunch opposition

Sessions faced immense opposition over his civil rights record

The US Senate confirmed Jeff Sessions as attorney general Wednesday, despite staunch opposition over his civil rights record and whether he can be independent from President Donald Trump.

The US Senate confirmed Jeff Sessions as attorney general Wednesday, despite staunch opposition over his civil rights record and whether he can serve as the nation's top law enforcement officer independent from President Donald Trump.

Lawmakers approved Senator Sessions as the 84th US attorney general on a mostly party line vote of 52 to 47, with just one Democrat - Joe Manchin of West Virginia - joining the Republican majority.

Sessions, a 70-year-old senator from Alabama is an arch-conservative with a much criticized record on race relations and visceral opposition to immigration, both legal and illegal.

In 1986, Sessions was denied a federal judgeship by the Republican controlled Senate Judiciary Committee for making racist remarks – only the second such decision by the committee in its 49-year history.

Sessions was accused of attempting to suppress African-American voters in Alabama, where he was serving as US Attorney, in addition to warning a fellow African-American prosecutor to watch how he spoke to “white people.”

The allegations came out during witness testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee as Sessions sought approval to be a federal district court judge.

During the lengthy testimony, Sessions admitted that, when told that a white lawyer had been called a "disgrace to his race" for defending African-Americans, he responded by saying: "Well, maybe he is."

It also emerged during the hearings that in the 1980s he allegedly addressed a black prosecutor working for him as "boy," and joked about the Ku Klux Klan saying he thought its members were "OK, until I found out they smoked pot."

Sessions, an early loyal Trump supporter, is widely seen as an inspiration for Trump's anti-immigration policies, especially his Muslim ban executive order, which is currently being contested in court.

Democrats on Wednesday laced into Sessions, casting him as too cozy with Trump and too harsh on immigrants.

They asserted he wouldn't do enough to protect voting rights of minorities, protections for gays and the legal right of women to obtain an abortion. They fear immigrants in the country illegally won't receive due process with Session as the top law enforcement officer.

"Any attorney general must be able to stand firm for the rule of law even against the powerful executive that nominated him or her. In this administration I believe that independence is even more necessary," said Virginia Senator Tim Kaine.

"His (Sessions') record raises doubts about whether he can be a champion for those who need this office most and it also raises doubts about whether he can curb unlawful overreach" by Trump.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has opposed Sessions’ nomination, vowed to sue the new attorney general if he “violates the Constitution”.



Source: Alara biya

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