The American Association for Access, Equity, and Diversity (AAAED) has released a statement urging the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to reject President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, R.-Ala., for U.S. attorney general. In this position, he would oversee the legality of federal programs related to immigration and voting rights, among others.
The AAAED, upon review of his voting record, asserts that Sessions has a history of bias against efforts to promote equal opportunity for many underrepresented groups and that he has not demonstrated an ability to enforce rights for the historically disadvantaged.
“We do not take this position lightly and without due consideration. After a review of the voting record of Sen. 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,” AAAED President Myron R. Anderson said in a statement.
The AAAED is concerned over Sessions’ remarks that race and civil rights is a “very, very difficult discussion.” Also, in 1997 he said, “I think [the discussion around race and civil rights] 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.”
Furthermore, Sessions supported an unsuccessful attempt to end affirmative action programs in the federal government — provisions AAAED Executive Director Shirley J. Wilcher said are key to preventing discrimination.
“Laws intended to promote equal opportunity through affirmative action bar making selections in employment, education, or contracts simply on the basis of race,” Wilcher said in a statement. “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.”
Sessions’ record also shows that he voted against expanding the definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation, and he voted for a controversial bill that would allow religiously affiliated employers to discriminate based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Furthermore, he voted to oppose the confirmation of several of President Barack Obama’s cabinet nominees who were from underrepresented groups, particularly those who had strong records in support of affirmative action and equal opportunity.
The confirmation hearing for Sessions will take place Jan. 10 and 11.