President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Republican senator from Alabama Jeff Sessions to be the next attorney general of the United States, a move that will be cause for concern for anyone who cares about civil rights. In his 20-year tenure in the senate, Sessions has consistently voted against abortion access, same-sex marriage, affirmative action, immigration reform, and mandatory minimum sentencing reform. In other words: he's a nightmare.
The Hill reported Thursday that former Trump adversary for the GOP presidential nominee senator Ted Cruz was interested in being attorney general, but the New York Times reports that Trump's team had been considering Sessions for the job, and was also under consideration for secretary of defense.
A former prosecutor, Sessions has been in the senate since 1996, where he's been a staunch advocate for ultra-conservative causes. Prior to his run as a senator, Sessions served as attorney general of Alabama in the 1980's, when he was infamously quoted as saying that he thought the Ku Klux Klan was "OK until I found out they smoked pot."
Sessions later apologized for the remark, saying it was in jest, but the soon-to-be attorney general has long been subject to intense scrutiny over his racist beliefs. He was denied federal judgeship in 1986 when other attorneys testified that he had made racist remarks, including calling the NAACP "un-American," and telling black U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Figures that he should be "careful" in what he said to white people.
In addition to racist statements Sessions is said to have made, his voting record also speaks volumes on other civil rights matters. Sessions has voted to loosen restrictions on wire tapping, voted against including homophobic crimes to the list of hate crimes, and against the Violence Against Women Act.
Despite all of this, the president-elect apparently trust Sessions to lead the Justice Department and to be the highest-ranking lawyer and law enforcement officer in the nation.