Standing Up for Our Rights Means Voting No on Jeff Sessions For Attorney General

Photo: Flickr

In his final speech as attorney general, Eric Holder gave us a warning — and one that remains relevant to the Senate today.

“Beware of those who would take us back to a past that has really never existed, or that was imbued with a forgotten inequity,” he said. “Our destiny as Americans is always ahead of us.”

Today, our country faces a stark choice. Do we want to pursue an imaginary past? Or do we want to continue to follow the path toward progress?Do we continue in our struggle to form a more perfect union, to secure the blessings of liberty?

It is hard to believe, but these are the dramatic choices before us as we consider the cabinet nominations of this president. And that choice is perhaps most clear in the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general.

The attorney general is the highest law enforcement official in the country. He or she is a defender of American values — of human rights and civil rights. And this person needs to have an unbreakable commitment to fight for what’s right, and to lead the pursuit in making America more free and more just.

That’s the kind of approach we need, because that’s what the job demands. The attorney general leads the number one watchdog for civil rights in our country. This person leads a department charged with protecting voting rights, and prosecuting human trafficking and hate crimes. They determine and defend the constitutionality of U.S. policies.

Our next attorney general will face critical challenges that will test our justice system and our values. We will need a leader committed to protecting the rights of every American, regardless of race, religion, gender, national origin, or sexual orientation.

Photo: Flickr

While I like him as a colleague, Senator Sessions is the wrong person to serve as attorney general. In my judgement, his policies, priorities, and overall philosophy fall short of the standard our country has for leader of the Justice Department.

Throughout Senator Sessions’ career, he has been on the wrong side of history. And if you look at the key issues this attorney general will work on, it’s clear that Senator Sessions’ views fall outside of mainstream America.

Think of what the president might do with an attorney general in place who shares his philosophy on immigrants, minority communities, LGBTQ Americans, voting rights, and women’s rights.

I know I am not alone in having these concerns. Millions of people have signed petitions, made calls, and posted online in opposition to this nominee. I’ve received very thoughtful messages from people in Hawaii about Senator Sessions.

We can respect Senator Sessions as a colleague while still agreeing that his policies, his priorities, and his philosophy are too extreme for the Justice Department. And there are too many issues that this country cares about to confirm his nomination.

If you care about criminal justice reform — if you care about seeing fewer people go to jail because of petty crimes, or you care about directing less taxpayer dollars to the prison industry — then you are going to be opposed to this nomination.

If you care about the LGBT community — if you believe that people shouldn’t be discriminated against, or punished because of who they love, if you believe that people, regardless of their identity, should be able to get married or wear our nation’s finest uniform — then you are going to be opposed.

If you care about immigration — if you’re a business owner who wants to hire the best and the brightest, if your family came this country to pursue the American dream, if you’re a person of faith who believes in caring for those who suffer, for the stranger in our midst — then you are going to be opposed.

If you care about women’s rights — if you believe that women are not to be treated like second-class citizens, that our daughters are just as capable as our sons, and that they have the right to make their own decisions about their health care — then you are opposed.

If you care about our democracy — if you want people to raise their voices, and take part in shaping the future of our country, if you are dismayed to know that millions of people are unable to vote, not because they aren’t eligible, but because of senseless laws that restrict our rights — then you are opposed.

The Senate must stand up for civil rights, for voting rights, for women’s rights, for immigrant’s rights. And that means we must vote no on Jeff Sessions’ for attorney general.

U.S. Senator from Hawaii