Today I broke with Senate tradition and testified against the nomination of one of my colleagues, Senator Jeff Sessions. I believe that in the choice between standing with Senate norms or standing up for what my conscience tells me is best for our country, I will always choose conscience and country. Senator Sessions has not demonstrated a commitment to a central requirement of the job as Attorney General—to aggressively pursue the congressional mandate of civil rights, equal rights, and justice for all. In fact, at numerous times in his career, he has demonstrated a hostility toward these convictions, and has worked to frustrate attempts to advance these ideals. 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. The next Attorney General must bring hope and healing to our country, and this demands a more courageous empathy than Senator Sessions’ record demonstrates. Jeff Sessions should not be our next Attorney General—I oppose his nomination and hope you will join me in speaking out.
We already have extreme vetting for refugees. What is dangerous is the White House is not allowing a thorough vetting for cabinet nominees.