JURIST Digital Scholars
Senate holds second day of Sessions confirmation hearings
Senate holds second day of Sessions confirmation hearings

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday held the second day of confirmation hearing for Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions [official websites], President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed attorney general. Sessions’ first day of confirmation hearings took place Tuesday, where Sessions pledged to fulfill [JURIST report] the duties of attorney general with integrity. While various individuals testified to support [hearing report] Sessions’ nomination on Wednesday, including former attorneys generals Michael Mukasey and Larry Thompson [statement transcripts], the testimony against him was particularly vehement. For example, the Senate heard testimony from Cornell Brooks, President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People [advocacy website], who stated [transcript], “Senator Sessions’ record conclusively demonstrates that he lacks the judgement and temperament to serve effectively… [as] his record throughout his career…evinces a clear disregard, disrespect and even disdain for the civil and human rights of racial and ethnic minorities, women, the disabled, and other who suffer from discrimination in this county.” In addition, David Cole, National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] expressed [transcript] that “Sessions’ past statements and actions have demonstrated not just insensitivity but active hostility to the rights of many of our fellow citizens. … The ACLU cannot and does not take a position on whether you should confirm Sen. Sessions’ nomination. But we do maintain unequivocally that Sen. Sessions’ record of hostility to civil rights warrants the most serious examination.” The Senate also heard testimony from current Senator Cory Booker, who spoke out in opposition of Sessions’ nomination. Now that the hearings have concluded, the Senate Judiciary Committee can either move the nomination straight to the Senate floor for a full vote, or not move it at all, effectively killing Sessions’ nomination. If the nomination clears the committee, the Senate can confirm with a simple majority.

The Republican senator and former US attorney had been the first senate member to support Trump [JURIST report] during his presidential campaign, and he later worked with Trump to construct immigration, trade and counterterrorism policies. He is expected [Politico report] to be confirmed since the Republicans will likely have a 52-48 advantage over Democrats in the committee. Sessions will not need to meet a 60-vote threshold for nomination since the requirement has been repealed, and therefore he will likely face little difficulty unless Republicans defect. Upon choosing Sessions for the attorney general position, Trump also chose [Guardian report] Republican Representative Mike Pompeo as the director of the CIA and retired general Michael Flynn as his national security adviser. Both of the chosen candidates are believed to share Trump’s views regarding surveillance, espionage and foreign policy. Trump must still make official announcements regarding top positions such as the secretary of state, secretary of defense and treasury secretary.