WASHINGTON — The Japanese American Citizens League joined with over 200 national organizations in an open letter to the U.S. Senate opposing the confirmation of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) for attorney general.
The letter from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley of Iowa, and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy of Vermont, stated that Sessions “has a 30-year record of racial insensitivity, bias against immigrants, disregard for the rule of law, and hostility to the protection of civil rights that makes him unfit to serve as the Attorney General of the United States.”
“The position of attorney general is charged with enforcing our nation’s laws without prejudice and with an eye toward justice. It is a position of trust where all Americans must feel the person in this position will fairly administer justice,” JACL said in a statement. “Sen. Sessions’ actions as a United States senator raise questions as to whether he will fairly administer justice.
“On voting rights, he has voiced support for restrictive voter ID laws that have had the effect of restricting access to the polls.
“On hate crimes, he opposed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which is especially troubling in the current climate where hate crimes are on the rise.
“On LGBT rights, Sessions supported a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
“On women’s rights, he opposed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 enabling women to file ongoing pay discrimination claims.”
The letter reads, in part: “In 1986, when then-U.S. Attorney Sessions was nominated by former President Ronald Reagan to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, the Republican-controlled Senate upheld its constitutional duty, undertaking a careful and comprehensive review of his record at that time.
“The Judiciary Committee was presented with compelling evidence that then-U.S. Attorney Sessions had a deeply troubling record as an opponent of civil rights enforcement, a champion of voter suppression tactics targeting African Americans, and a history of making racially insensitive statements.
“The record included warning an African American colleague to be careful about what he said ‘to white folks,’ and speaking favorably about the Ku Klux Klan, as well as his prosecution of three African American voting rights activists on dozens of charges that were promptly rejected by a jury.”
The civil rights organizations include:
Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Asian American Psychological Association
Asian Americans Advancing Justice
Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote
Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence
Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations
Center for APA Women
Laotian American National Alliance
National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association
National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
National Council of Asian Pacific Americans
National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians
National Federation of Filipino American Associations
National Korean American Service and Education Consortium
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center