Friday, February 26, 2010

Sen. Jefferson Beauregard "Jeff" Sessions III

That's his real name and he is a staunch Alabama Republican. Now he defends John Yoo about the torture memo.

I seriously wonder with as much candor as I can muster: "How can this man call himself a Senator of the United States with a straight face?" What makes people like Sessions tick? The main story from here.

But, first: Who is "Beauregard" Sessions the Third -- the man? Here are a few details from this bio sketch:

In 1986, Reagan nominated Sessions to be a judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama. Sessions was actively backed by Alabama Senator Jeremiah Denton, a Republican. The nomination of Sessions was first sent to the Senate for confirmation on October 23, 1985, and was resubmitted on January 29, 1986. The American Bar Association, which rates nominees to the federal bench, rated Sessions "qualified."

At his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, four Department of Justice lawyers who had worked with Sessions testified that he had made several racist statements. One of those lawyers, J. Gerald Hebert, testified that Sessions had referred to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as "un-American" and "Communist-inspired" because they "forced civil rights down the throats of people." Hebert said that Sessions had a tendency to "pop off" on such topics frequently and had once called a white civil rights lawyer who dealt with voting rights suits a "disgrace to his race."

Thomas Figures, a black Assistant U.S. Attorney, testified that Sessions said he thought the Klan was "OK until I found out they smoked pot." Figures also testified that on one occasion, when the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division sent the office instructions to investigate a case that Sessions had tried to close, Figures and Sessions "had a very spirited discussion regarding how the Hodge case should then be handled; in the course of that argument, Mr. Sessions threw the file on a table, and remarked, 'I wish I could decline on all of them,'" by which Figures said Sessions meant civil rights cases generally.

After becoming Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, Sessions was asked in an interview about his civil rights record as a U.S Attorney. He denied that he had not sufficiently pursued civil rights cases, saying that "when I was [a U.S. Attorney], I signed 10 pleadings attacking segregation or the remnants of segregation, where we as part of the Department of Justice, we sought desegregation remedies."

Figures also said that Sessions had called him "boy." He also testified that "Mr. Sessions admonished me to 'be careful what you say to white folks.'" Sessions responded to the testimony by denying the allegations, saying his remarks were taken out of context or meant in jest, and also stating that groups could be considered un-American when "they involve themselves in un-American positions" in foreign policy. Sessions said during testimony that he considered the Klan to be "a force for hatred and bigotry." In regards to the marijuana quote, Sessions said the comment was a joke but apologized.

In response to a question from Joe Biden on whether he had called the NAACP and other civil rights organizations, Sessions replied "I'm often loose with my tongue. I may have said something about the NAACP being un-American or Communist, but I meant no harm by it." Although on the Judiciary Committee Republicans held 10 seats and Democrats eight, on June 5, 1986 the Committee voted 10-8 against recommendation the nomination to the floor, with Republican Senators Charles Mathias of Maryland and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania voted with the Democrats. It then split 9-9 on a vote to send Sessions' nomination to the Senate floor with no recommendation, with Specter again voting with the Democrats. The pivotal votes against Sessions came from Democratic Senator Howell Heflin of Alabama. Although Heflin had previously backed Sessions, he began to oppose Sessions after hearing testimony, concluding that there were "reasonable doubts" over Sessions' ability to be "fair and impartial."

His nomination was withdrawn on July 31, 1986. Sessions became only the second nominee to the federal judiciary in 48 years whose nomination was killed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sessions was quoted then as saying that the Senate on occasion had been insensitive to the rights and reputation of nominees. After joining the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sessions remarked that his presence there, alongside several of the members who voted against him, was a "great irony."

I note: You gotta hand it to those folks in Alabama -- they sure know how to pick their representatives in Congress. And, now with this story, Sessions apparently supports torture along with John Yoo and that mess.

I have to wonder how people like Sen. Sessions sleep at night?

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