PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION RESOLUTION REGARDING THE NOMINATION OF SENATOR JEFFERSON BEAUREGARD SESSIONS III AS UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL

WHEREAS, it is the mission of the Philadelphia Bar Association to serve the profession and the public by promoting justice, professional excellence and respect for the rule of law, and in so doing, the Association strives to foster understanding of, involvement in and access to the justice system; and

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association supports the protection of civil rights and has a particular interest in seeing that the laws are faithfully and fairly enforced; and

WHEREAS, President-Elect Donald J. Trump has publicly stated his intention to nominate Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III for the position of United States Attorney General; and

WHEREAS, as the chief law enforcement officer and chief lawyer of the United States government, the United States Attorney General is charged with enforcing the law without prejudice and with an eye toward justice; and

WHEREAS, Senator Sessions has taken numerous actions during the course of his career that call into question his fitness to serve as Attorney General; and

WHEREAS, Senator Sessions's acts and words have called into question his regard for the rule of law and desire to protect basic civil rights; and

WHEREAS, when nominated in 1986 to serve as a United States District Court Judge, the Senate refused to confirm Senator Sessions after being presented with accusations that he made a number of controversial and racially insensitive statements,1 including that he considered the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP Defense Fund and the National Council of Churches "un-American" groups; and

WHEREAS, Senator Sessions has taken numerous actions seeking to restrict legal immigration into this country, including voting against a resolution stating that the United States must not bar entry into the country based on religion2 and opposing comprehensive immigration reform,3 as well as proposing a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for anyone re-entering the country illegally after being deported4; and

WHEREAS, Senator Sessions has accepted awards from the David Horowitz Freedom Center5 and Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy,6 two organizations designated as anti-Muslim extremist groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center7; and

WHEREAS, Senator Sessions has a track record of failing to protect voting rights, including supporting voter ID requirements8 and calling the Voting Rights Act "intrusive"9; and

WHEREAS, Senator Sessions has not demonstrated sensitivity to the issue of LGBT rights, opposing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act10, opposing the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell,"11 and supporting a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage12; and

WHEREAS, Senator Sessions opposed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 200913, which enables women to file ongoing pay discrimination claims, and has voted against consideration of the Paycheck Fairness Act14; and

WHEREAS, Senator Sessions opposed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 201315;

WHEREAS, Senator Sessions has indicated an indifference to the rights of individuals with disabilities, including speaking out against the requirements in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to include children with disabilities in mainstream education16; and

WHEREAS, Senator Sessions has opposed criminal justice reform, including bipartisan efforts to reduce sentences for certain nonviolent drug offenses;17 and

WHEREAS, Senator Sessions has stated that "good people don't smoke marjuana," indicating a failure to recognize the growing trends of accepting marijuana for medicinal purposes and decriminalizing its recreational use18; and

WHEREAS, on December 1, 2016, 144 civil rights and progressive organizations submitted a letter to the leaders of the United States Senate opposing Senator Sessions' nomination to the position of U.S. Attorney General for many of the same reasons set forth above.19

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association urges Pennsylvania Senators Patrick Toomey and Robert Casey and the other members of the United States Senate to thoroughly investigate and assess all of the issues listed in this Resolution at the forthcoming Senate hearing to determine whether or not Senator Sessions should be confirmed as United States Attorney General;

AND, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, absent complete and satisfactory explanations from Senator Sessions regarding each of the serious concerns raised in this Resolution, the Philadelphia Bar Association urges all members of the United States Senate to vote against the confirmation of Senator Sessions as United States Attorney General.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: December 15, 2016


1 abcnews.go.com/Politics/jeff-sessions-1986-confirmation-hearing-tinged-allegations-racism/story?id=43645768;
blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2009/06/you-cant-dwell-on-those-things-sen-jeff-sessions-r-alarecently-told-the-examiners-byron-york-if-i-had-be.html

2 edition.cnn.com/2015/12/10/politics/pat-leahy-anti-donald-trump-amendment/index.html

3 www.sessions.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/67ae7163-6616-4023-a5c4-534c53e6fc26/immigration-primer-for-the-114th-congress.pdf;
abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/Politics/jeff-sessions-kill-immigration-reform-bill-thing/story?id=19311727

4 www.sessions.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=news-releases&id=DBF0B723-D3A1-4D72-A35A-3F9FF1E48EFD

5 imagine2050.newcomm.org/2014/11/20/sen-sessions-joins-nativist-pals-as-recipient-of-david-horowitz-freedom-center-award/;
www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Sessions%20SJC%20Questionnaire%20F.pdf

6 www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/2015/10/22/center-celebrates-sen-jeff-sessions-and-adm-james-ace-lyons/;
www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Sessions%20SJC%20Questionnaire%20F.pdf

7 www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/david-horowitz;
www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/center-security-policy;
www.splcenter.org/hate-map

8 abcnews.go.com/Politics/jeff-sessions-race-civil-rights/story?id=43633501

9 www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/may/05/jeff-sessions-arlen-specter-judiciary-committee

10 www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=111&session=1&vote=00233

11 www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=111&session=2&vote=00281

12 www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=2&vote=00163

13 www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=111&session=1&vote=00014

14 www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=113&session=2&vote=00262

15 www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=113&session=1&vote=00019

16 www.sessions.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2000/5/education-discipline-and-idea-

17 www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/10/who-can-stop-criminal-justice-reform-now-very-few-people/446268/

18 www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/04/05/senators-one-sided-marijuana-hearing-is-heavy-on-anecdote-light-on-data/?utm_term=.0ddcc6dd4112

19 www.civilrights.org/advocacy/letters/2016/civil-and-human-rights.html