In a testimony to the Senate Judiciary committee on the second day of hearings, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) forcefully argued that fellow Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) lacks the will and capacity to fight for justice on the part of the marginalized, and therefore has no place as Attorney General.
(Full transcript is available here.)
In an unprecedented move Wednesday, Senator Cory Booker testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee against a fellow sitting senator. Along with his colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, Booker urged the committee to deny Jeff Sessions the Attorney General position, pointing to Sessions’ record on women’s rights, LGBT rights, and voting rights.
Booker began his remarks by noting that he recognized it was “exceptional for a Senator to testify against another Senator nominated for a cabinet position,” but also that his fellow Senators know “how deeply motivated I am by the many issues our next Attorney General will heavily influence, especially the crisis of mass incarceration.”
He talked of legislation that he had co-sponsored with Sessions to honor civil rights activists from Selma, Alabama, but noted that the “march for justice in America still continues.”
And he pointed out that Sessions’ desire for law and order “is not enough.” He continued: “Law and order without justice is unobtainable; they are inextricably tied together. If there is no justice, there is no peace.”
Booker argued that Sessions “has not demonstrated a commitment to a central requirement of the job,” which Booker says is to pursue “civil rights, equal rights, and justice for all.” His blistering indictment continued:
If confirmed, Senator Sessions will be required to pursue justice for women, but his record indicates that he won’t.
He will be expected to defend the equal rights of gay and lesbian Americans, but his record indicates that he won’t.
He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won’t.
He will be expected to defend the rights of immigrants and affirm their human dignity, but his record indicates he won’t.
His record indicates that as Attorney General he would obstruct the growing national bipartisan movement toward criminal justice reform.
His record indicates that we cannot count on him to support state and national efforts toward bringing justice to a justice system that people on both sides of the aisle readily admit is biased against the poor, drug addicted, mentally ill, and people of color.
His record indicates that at a time when even the FBI director is speaking out about implicit racial bias in policing and the need to address it; at a time when the last two Attorneys General have taken steps to fix our broken criminal justice system; and at a time when the Justice Department he would lead has uncovered systemic abuses in police departments all over the United States including Ferguson, including Newark; Senator Sessions would not continue to lead urgently needed change.
Booker’s powerful testimony was followed by other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, each of them urging a rejection of Sessions based on his civil rights record and his documented hostility to voting rights and the rights of marginalized U.S. citizens. Sessions has spent much of his two-day hearing attempting to rewrite this record.
Thankfully, Booker and his Democratic colleagues did not let him get away with it.