Say “No” to Sen. Jeff Sessions

The Senate Judiciary Committee should reject Sen. Sessions’ nomination for Attorney General.

On Tuesday, January 31, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on President Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III.   If the last few days show anything, it’s that Sessions is the wrong person for the job.

I’ve written previously about how, as the U.S. Attorney for Alabama, Sessions abused his authority to prosecute civil rights advocates seeking to register African American voters. This egregious action takes on even greater importance as President Trump is demanding a federal investigation  of unsubstantiated voter fraud and signed an executive order banning refugees and citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries (significantly, excluding nations in which Trump is doing business) from entering the US.

Thus far, executive power in Trump’s hands is a tool for settling scores about who really won the election and stoking fear and discord.  To date the legislative branch has stood by mutely, rather than providing a much needed check.  And, as Attorney General, Jeff Sessions will make matters worse. Continue reading “Say “No” to Sen. Jeff Sessions”

Equal Opportunity Offender

Senator Sessions’ consistent opposition to civil rights makes him wrong for Justice.

As confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions begin today, some Senators may be tempted to dismiss objections to his elevation as a smear campaign based on ancient history.  But, when it comes to  Sen. Sessions,  the past is prologue.  Sessions is the wrong person to be the nation’s  top law enforcer.  Continue reading “Equal Opportunity Offender”

Sen. Sessions: Unfit for Justice

Trump’s choice for Attorney General is hostile to civil rights.

President-elect Trump has announced his intention to name Alabama Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to the position of Attorney General.  This Confederate general namesake couldn’t be a worse fit for the job.

As you probably know by now, former President Reagan nominated Sessions for a federal judgeship in 1985 when he was serving as the U.S. Attorney for Alabama.  Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected him after evidence of Sessions’ racism emerged. The Huffington Post, provided excerpts from the hearing, including testimony that:  Sessions derided the NAACP and the ACLU as un-American and for “trying to force civil rights down the throats of people trying to put problems behind them”; referred to a white civil rights lawyer as a traitor to his race; and warned the only African American Assistant U.S. Attorney to be careful what he said to white people.

Reagan’s selection of Sessions was all the more problematic given his unsuccessful attempt to prosecute Black civil rights leaders for allegedly engaging in voter fraud just four months earlier. Continue reading “Sen. Sessions: Unfit for Justice”

Election(s) Matter(s)

Hey, Verona.”  

 In 1990 I was an attorney for the Voting Rights Section of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Much to my mother’s dismay,  I got sent to Mississippi to investigate the political and social environment in Noxubee County. The question was  whether minority voters’ rights were in such jeopardy that federal observers were necessary. Among the folks I met was a tiny white woman with cotton-candy hair and matching glasses who couldn’t get my name right and asked me the same question.

Yew behavin’ yur-self?”

My role in this woman’s play was merely to smile and nod.  After all, as a government outsider talking to Black voters about their concerns pre-election day, I clearly was not being  good girl.  Memories of that time, place, and irksome woman came to mind when I learned that federal observers wouldn’t be out in full force this presidential election.  Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, striking down a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which also hobbled the Department of Justice’s ability to enforce the law. Continue reading “Election(s) Matter(s)”

Ferguson, Baltimore…and Cincinnati: Lessons from DOJ Investigations

Terence Crutcher. Keith Lamont Scott.  Korryn Gaines. These are just some of the most recent additions to the growing roll of people killed by police. Communities across the nation struggle for answers, strategies, and, most importantly, an end to the violence.  On October 4, 2016, the University of Cincinnati will host this important discussion, building upon lessons learned from Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland.

DOJ found patterns of racial discrimination in stops, detentions, and use of force in both places.  In Ferguson, DOJ  said the police viewed African Americans “less as constituents to be protected than as potential offenders and sources of revenue.”  In Baltimore, DOJ found that the systemic constitutional violations stemmed from structural failures. What do these findings mean for other cities, including Cincinnati?

To be sure, Cincinnati has been cited as an exemplar for reform for troubled cities because of the collaborative agreement between the police and communities.  What can Cincinnati’s experience add to our understanding of race, class, and policing, particularly when it comes to addressing endemic inequities?

Co-sponsored by the Cincinnati Project of the College of Arts and Sciences and Cincinnati Law’s Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice,  a panel discussion will address these and other issues. Participants include the following: attorney Alphonse Gerhardstein, law professor Janet Moore, activist Iris Roley, history professor Tracy Teslow, and Africana Studies professor Earl Wright II.

The event begins at 3:30 p.m. in room 450 of the Lindner Center.  Please join us.