January 24, 2017

Whitehouse Announces Opposition to Sessions Nomination

Washington, DC – Following a business meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee today, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse released the following statement with regard to the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be U.S. Attorney General:

“I have reviewed Senator Sessions’s career as an attorney and in public office, as well as his testimony before the Judiciary Committee.  I have reflected on my time as an Attorney General and U.S. Attorney in Rhode Island, where my job was to enforce the law faithfully with compassion and independence.  I have also listened closely to serious concerns from Rhode Islanders, who have made it plain that they fear what Jeff Sessions could do as head of the Justice Department.  For every constituent of mine who has expressed support of his nomination, fifteen have expressed opposition.

“Senator Sessions’s record is clear.  He has fought against fixing our immigration system to keep millions of vital workers in our economy and protect families from being torn apart.  He abandoned even his fellow Republicans to vote against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.  He has, on numerous occasions, used racially charged or downright offensive rhetoric to belittle and marginalize broad groups of Americans, including Rhode Island’s wonderful Dominican community.  He has demonstrated open hostility for bedrock civil rights laws, and failed repeatedly to distance himself from hate groups that hold him up as a champion of their values.  In my questioning of him during his confirmation hearing, Senator Sessions cast doubt on whether someone with religious views that differ from his can understand the truth.  The job demands and Rhode Islanders expect our Attorney General to be a fierce defender of our constitutional rights and equal justice under law.  Jeff Sessions’s record casts such serious doubt on whether he can perform that role that I cannot support his nomination.”

Whitehouse questioned Sessions about the nominee’s past statements disparaging immigrant groups and prominent civil rights organizations during Sessions’s confirmation hearing earlier this month.  In late December, Whitehouse brought together more than a dozen Rhode Islanders representing civil rights organizations, the legal community, government, and other constituencies to hear Rhode Islanders’ thoughts about Sessions’s nomination.  Participants raised questions about Sessions’s record on civil rights, voting access, immigration, and criminal justice reform. 


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921