Given how sharply divided and polarized our country is, we need leaders who will heal that divide. Sen. Jeff Sessions, President Trump’s pick for attorney general, is not likely to help us toward that goal. Sen. Susan Collins said “she has never witnessed anything to suggest that Sen. Sessions is other than a fair-minded man,” but Collins shows a lack of empathy and understanding, and seems to be putting her long friendship with Sessions ahead of her responsibility to all citizens. Many Americans don’t believe he is fair-minded and fear his bias will adversely affect them.

This fear is not unfounded. Sessions has shown a marked lack of empathy toward blacks and other minorities, women, homosexuals, Muslims and even disabled children. He opposed same-sex marriage, said that voter ID laws that were blocked by a federal court because they constituted racial discrimination “don’t appear to me to be discriminatory,” opposed a 2015 amendment to reaffirm that the U.S. would not discriminate against immigrants on the basis of religion, and as Alabama’s attorney general prosecuted three civil rights activists on voter fraud charges (focusing only on black voters) and attacked the Individuals with Disabilities Act. When asked about Donald Trump’s crass comments describing grabbing women’s genitals, he said, “I don’t characterize that as sexual assault. I think that’s a stretch.”

Collins said, “Sen. Sessions testified that the attorney general must be willing to tell the president ‘no’ if he overreaches.” But to be able to do that, it is necessary that the AG recognize overreach, which in Sessions’ case is doubtful. Under a Sessions Justice Department, I fear we will have stricter voting laws that further reduce voter participation (and the legitimacy of elected officials), support for laws targeting Muslims, and weaker laws protecting minority, homosexual and women’s rights.

Kristen Salvatore


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