The Drug Policy Alliance has launched a campaign to block the confirmation of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. attorney general, Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions.
A campaign video created by award-winning filmmaker dream hampton launched this week on The Root featuring archival video footage of Sessions making controversial and racist statements, juxtaposed with Drug Policy Alliance staff and supporters talking about what Sessions’ confirmation would mean for criminal justice and drug policy reform going forward.
“Jeff Sessions is a drug war extremist with a career-long history of racist comments and actions,” said Bill Piper, senior director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance. “In recent years, Sessions played a critical role in blocking efforts to reform sentencing policy, asset forfeiture, and marijuana laws. We will do everything we can to stop his confirmation.”
The last time Sessions faced a confirmation vote in 1986, a Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee denied him federal judgeship after testimonies revealed a history of racist statements and actions.
Thomas Figures, a black assistant US attorney who worked for Sessions, testified during confirmation hearings that Sessions had called him “boy” multiple times, and had joked that Ku Klux Klan members were “OK, until he learned that they smoked marijuana,” according to a CNN report.
“Things that I had heard firsthand from him were things that demonstrated gross racial insensitivity to black citizens of Alabama and the United States,” Hebert said in November 2016. “He has never backed off from the comments he made at that time. He has never apologized for them.”
As a U.S. Senator, Sessions has consistently supported harsh drug laws, and he led the opposition to recent bipartisan efforts seeking to reduce prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.
The Drug Policy Alliance is working with “a broad coalition of organizations across the political spectrum” to oppose Sessions, and urges allies to tell their Senators to oppose his nomination for attorney general.
More from the Drug Policy Alliance:
He [Sessions] is likely to use his power as attorney general to accelerate federal prosecutions for drug law violations that carry draconian mandatory sentences and to interfere with state-legal marijuana and medical marijuana programs. Sessions is likely to expand the use of surveillance and policing against immigrant and marginalized communities. A Senate confirmation of Sessions would also position Sessions as a powerful foe of bipartisan criminal justice and sentencing reform efforts in Congress.
Despite Sessions’ checkered past and widespread opposition among progressives, Democrats lack the votes to block his nomination for attorney general. Unless Republicans vote him down — which isn’t likely to happen, according to Politico — Sessions has a good chance of being confirmed.
Related gallery: 13 states that drug test welfare recipients
Gallery information via National Conference of State Legislatures