I strongly believe, quoting President Obama that “elections have consequences.” In 1995, then-Senator Joe Biden told Tim Russert on national television, “I think the advice-and-consent responsibility of the Senate does not permit us to deprive the president of the United States from being able to appoint that person or persons who have a particular point of view unless it can be shown that their temperament does not fit the job, they are morally incapable or unqualified for the job, or that they have committed crimes of moral turpitude." Therefore the question then becomes one of whether the candidate is morally incapable or unqualified for the job. I can testify unequivocally that Senator Sessions is a man of honor and he will bring ability and integrity to the office of Attorney General.
Over many years I have gotten to know, like and respect Senator Jeff Sessions and have been impressed by his distinguished record of public service. From 1981 to 1993 he served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama. Sessions was elected Attorney General of Alabama in 1994 and to the U.S. Senate in 1996, being re-elected in 2002, 2008, and 2014. Philosophically, Senator Sessions is considered to be a very conservative member of the United States Senate whose views coincide with many of the positions advocated by President-elect Trump.
In my view, the fact that Senator Sessions opposes many of President Obama’s “social issue” initiatives that evoke intense partisan advocacy and debate does not disqualify him from holding a high public office. In fact, I believe the opposite is true. In the case of these controversial policy considerations, emotions run high and they can only be resolved in an atmosphere that allows for open and frank discussion. In my mind, it is counterproductive for those opposing Senator Sessions' nomination to engage in ad hominem attacks negatively characterizing him professionally simply because they disagree with him politically.
Setting aside Senator Sessions' conservatism, those opposed to his nomination engage in dredging up old controversies which left-leaning legal scholars hope will mire Senator Sessions in a messy and unnecessary confirmation fight. After President-elect Donald Trump named Sessions as his choice for the next attorney general, detractors pointed back to the senator’s failure to win Senate approval after being nominated by President Reagan to serve as a U.S. district court judge in 1986. During those hearings, some colleagues alleged he that he referred to the NAACP and other civil rights organizations as un-American and once quipped that he thought that the Klu Klux Klan was “OK” until he learned they smoked marijuana.
Admittedly, some people, in a misguided attempt at humor, say things they later regret. However, from my experience, I can attest to the fact that Senator Sessions is not a racist. In his own words, he described the allegations against him as heartbreaking, saying, “That was not fair; that was not accurate. Those were false charges using distortions of anything that I did. And it really was not. I never had those kinds of views, and I was caricatured in a way that was not me.”
Significantly, Congresswoman Martha Roby, who has served alongside Senator Sessions in the Alabama Congressional Delegation for the last six years, said the attacks on Sessions are "totally unfair." Roby said the latest attacks are an example of the same type of smear campaign that was used against him the last time. She went on to say that she is reminded of what former Senator Arlen Specter, certainly not a conservative, said that in all his years of service, the vote he regretted most was the one he cast not to confirm Jeff Sessions for the bench. He said that because he came to know Jeff Sessions and understand his character. “Our country would be very fortunate to have Jeff Sessions in a leadership role, and I believe if that happens his critics will be proven wrong.” I too believe that Senator Sessions is a good man and eminently qualified to be Attorney General of the United States. I know Jeff Sessions and believe in his judgement and integrity. He fully understands the importance rule of law as it relates to the proper administration of justice as well as anyone who has ever held public office. Therefore, I urge that everybody, within RNLA who feels as I do, contact their respective Senators, regardless of their political persuasion, and urge them to confirm Senator Sessions’ nomination to be the next Attorney General of the United States.
I have written this article to express my personal beliefs and feel obliged to point out that I am not necessarily representing the views of any of my colleagues at my firm.
Founding Chair of the Republican National Lawyers Association