American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity Urges Senate to Reject Sen. Jefferson B. Sessions as Nominee for U.S. Attorney General

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Association finds Sessions' voting record on efforts to promote equal opportunity and diversity disqualifying.

After a review of the voting record of Senator Sessions, in addition to his many statements and actions as reported by the press and recounted by civil rights and government leaders, we cannot in good conscience remain silent.

The American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity (AAAED) urges the United States Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the nomination of Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III for the position of Attorney General of the United States. Upon reviewing the voting record of Senator Sessions, which is replete with evidence of a bias against efforts to promote equal opportunity for women, minorities, persons with disabilities and the LGBT community, the association finds that Sessions lacks the fundamental requirement for Attorney General: a demonstrated ability to serve as the chief legal enforcer of rights for all, including the historically disadvantaged.

"We do not take this position lightly and without due consideration," stated Myron R. Anderson, Ph.D., President of AAAED. "After a review of the voting record of Senator Sessions, in addition to his many statements and actions as reported by the press and recounted by civil rights and government leaders, we cannot in good conscience remain silent," he added.

Among the many issues of concern to the association are the following:

Jeff Sessions believes that "Race and Civil Rights is a 'very, very difficult subject.'" In 1997 Sessions said: "I think it has, in fact, been a cause of irritation and perhaps has delayed the kind of movement to racial harmony we ought to be going forward [with] today. I think it makes people unhappy if they lost a contract or a right to go to a school or a privilege to attend a university simply because of their race."

"Laws intended to promote equal opportunity through affirmative action bar making selections in employment, education or contracts simply on the basis of race," stated AAAED Executive Director Shirley J. Wilcher. "They are designed to prevent discrimination and to promote opportunities for all who are qualified to compete regardless of their race, religion, sex, ethnicity, disability, veterans status, gender identity or sexual orientation," she added.

He supported an ultimately unsuccessful effort to end affirmative action programs in the federal government (a measure so extreme that many conservatives were against it).

Sessions scores 7% by the NAACP on affirmative action, indicating an anti-affirmative-action stance. "Strongly opposes affirmative action."

Sessions voted NO on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation. The previous definition included only racial, religious or ethnic bias.

Sessions voted NO on setting aside 10% of highway funds for minorities and women. (Vote to table, or kill, an amendment to repeal the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise [DBE] Program, which required no less than 10% of highway construction projects funded by the federal government to be contracted to 'disadvantaged business enterprises.)

Sessions voted YES on ending special funding for minority and women-owned business. This legislation would have abolished a program that helps businesses owned by women or minorities compete for federally funded transportation.

Senator Sessions Consistently Voted "Nay" on the following legislation:

The Paycheck Fairness Act
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013
Violence against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009
Equal Pay Bill 2008
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Treaty Ratification
Hate Crimes Amendment

Sessions voted "Yea" on a controversial bill to exempt religiously affiliated employers from rules prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Sessions voted to oppose the confirmations of the following Obama nominees of color and women, especially those who had strong records in support of affirmative action and equal opportunity:

Loretta E. Lynch to be Attorney General
Wilhelmina Wright to Be U.S. District Judge
Julian Castro to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Elena Kagan, Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court
Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court
David Satcher, Surgeon General of the Public Health Service
Debo P. Adegbile, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
Tom Perez, Secretary of Labor

On the matter of the confirmation of Ninth Circuit Appeals Court Nominee Goodwin Liu, Senator Sessions voted against Professor Liu because he supported "racial preferences" and served on the Board of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). "Racial preferences" is a longstanding conservative code word for quotas, which are illegal. Liu wrote in support of affirmative action, which is not. Moreover, serving on the board of the ACLU should not disqualify one from serving on the bench. Goodwin Liu withdrew his name after the Senate failed to overcome a filibuster of his nomination.

The confirmation hearing for Senator Sessions is scheduled to take place on January 10 - 11, 2017 before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary in Washington, DC.

For a copy of the letter submitted by AAAED to the United States Senate, go to: AAAED Letter to the Senate re Sessions, http://files.constantcontact.com/ebf58109001/b6d2ca94-f296-42a6-8da4-1c11b9080d12.pdf

For a copy of the letter submitted by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights on behalf of AAAED and other civil rights organizations, go to: Open Letter on Attorney General Nominee Jeff Sessions: http://www.civilrights.org/advocacy/letters/2016/civil-and-human-rights.html

For more information about AAAED, go to http://www.aaaed.org.

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Shirley J. Wilcher

Marilyn Schuyler
@affirmativeact
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