SESSIONS, ALLIES GIRD FOR BRUISING HEARINGS: Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the nominee for Attorney General, is expected to face bruising confirmation hearings next month, according to lengthy articles by USA Today and Politico.
“Democratic members of the Senate [Judiciary Committee] and Sessions’ current colleagues are promising no senatorial deference on the old questions of racial tolerance, his unstinting support of anti-immigration measures, opposition to gay rights and his embrace of harsh interrogation tactics,” USA Today reported. It noted the allegations of racism lodged against Sessions when he was nominated decades ago for a federal judgeship; the same Senate committee did not support that nomination on a bipartisan vote in 1986.
“Given his record, his nomination as the chief law enforcement officer for the country should send a shiver up the spine of every American,” former Justice Department attorney J. Gerald Hebert, who testified against Sessions in 1986, said recently. “He’s just not a Republican conservative,” Hebert added. “He’s a racist.”
Politico reported, “’There is a lot of rightful focus on the really divisive past of Sen. Sessions,’ said Scott Simpson, the director of media and campaigns for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of civil rights organizations. ‘The key thing to understand is that Sen. Sessions hasn’t given any indication that he’s changed throughout his Senate career.’” Sessions and allies are preparing an “image makeover,” Politico said.
FEDERAL COURTS: A separate Politico article was headlined, “Trump set to reshape judiciary after GOP blockade: The Senate left town with 99 judicial vacancies, as well as the current Supreme Court opening.” The Empirical SCOTUS blog looked at political contributions in a post titled, “What The Money Says About Federal Judges on Trump’s SCOTUS List.”
STATE COURT NEWS: Amid a flurry of special-session legislating, The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported, “NC lawmakers create partisan election process for courts that review their laws.” The action followed Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s defeat on Election Day by Democrat Roy Cooper. Legislators also voted to put restrictions on Cooper’s authority to make political appointments, and another News & Observer article examined “How courts could view moves to strip Roy Cooper’s power.”