Sunday, December 18, 2016

Trump's Cabinet nominees: Jeff Sessions, Attorney General

Donald Trump has nominated Jeff Sessions, Republican United States Senator, for the office of Attorney General.  

To find out what sort of role he will play and find out what influence he will have, I went to the Organization, Functions, and Missions Manual for the office.

The responsibilities of the Attorney General are as follows:


I'm pretty sure not many people realize just how many offices are under the Department of Justice, and how much influence over the application of the law the Attorney General has.  If you want the whole picture, please take a look at the agencies under this department.

This article is not meant to be comprehensive.  I want to give people an overview of Jeff Sessions' views, and how these views might affect the office he will run.

Civil Rights
As the head of the DOJ, Jeff Sessions would be in charge of the Civil Rights Division, the Criminal Division, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the DEA, the Office of Tribal Justice, and the Office on Violence Against Women, among other offices that will have effects on civil rights and inequality in the justice system.

Jeff Sessions received the following scores from civil rights groups:

  • NAACP: 7% rating, indicating an anti-affirmative action stance
  • ACLU: 20% rating on civil rights issues
  • Human Rights Commission: 0% on LGBT issues

Senator Sessions has called groups like the NAACP and the ACLU un-American.

He voted against renewing the Violence Against Women Act.

He voted against renewing special funding for businesses for minorities and women.

He has supported a constitutional ban on flag burning.

He has supported a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

A head of the Department of Justice who has such a poor record on civil rights will likely neglect these offices under his supervision, at best.  At worst, he will use their budgets and power to harm civil rights.

Drug Law Enforcement
As head of the DEA, Sessions will have the power to take the DEA in whatever direction fits his views.  He has used anti-legalization rhetoric  in Senate hearings, and he would be able to use his power--unless Trump stops him--to put a stop to state systems, at least temporarily.

Since he is also the head of the Bureau of Prisons, expect more enforcement of drug laws, since he is for the private prison industry.  The easiest way to fill prisons with nonviolent offenders--the offenders private prisons want to handle--is to enforce drug possessions laws.

The Republican Senator has been said to have a history of stringent opposition to immigration.  His opposition of Syrian refugees includes allegations of an increase of terrorism on the part of refugees. He has suggested using a religious test to ban Muslims from entering the US.

Domestic surveillance
Senator Sessions has supported lifting restrictions on warrantless wiretapping.  As head of the FBI, the BATF, the DEA, and the US Marshals, deregulation would give him power to use warrantless wiretapping to a much greater degree on the domestic front.

Jeff Sessions is 100% anti-choice, receiving a 0% rating from NARAL.  As the person who represents the United States in the Supreme Court (although it could be someone from his office), he is most likely itching to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Environmental regulation
As the head of the DOJ, Sessions also heads up the office of the Environment and Natural Resources.  Sessions has said that the views of climate scientists offend him.  Sessions is a vocal climate change denier, reflecting the views of Senator James Inhofe--and these men were on the Environment and Public Works committee.

As someone who has been strongly against environmental regulation, Sessions is unlikely to enforce them.

This is a short list of the issues Jeff Sessions could affect as the US Attorney General.  I invite you to look at the list of agencies that would be under his supervision, then compare them with his views to understand just how much impact he can have.

I will leave you with this: when Ronald Reagan nominated Jeff Sessions for a position as a federal judge, it came out during the hearing that the nominee had, as Alabama's attorney general, joked that he thought the KKK was all right until he found out they smoked marijuana.  That was one of the many troubling accusations of racism that killed his appointment--but not his career, unfortunately.