Locals talk Sessions

Published 3:00 am Friday, January 13, 2017

Alabama senator Jeff Sessions underwent two days of questioning by opponent and friends this week during his confirmation hearing for the position of attorney general.

Sessions came under fire primarily due to accusations of racism that surfaced in 1986 when he was denied a federal judgeship in Alabama, as well as his voting record and stances on civil asset forfeiture, drug laws and immigration.

Dr. Steven Taylor, a political science professor at Troy University, and Shirley Reddoch, president of the Pike County Republican Women, spoke about the confirmation hearings.

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Taylor said it was inevitable that the Sessions confirmation would be controversial– and that Sessions will be confirmed anyway.

“The bottom line is Sen. Sessions was going to face some level of serious questioning, for example the unprecedented action of Sen. Cory Booker testifying against him,” Taylor said. “I think that speaks to the controversial nature of the appointment.

“However, Sessions was always going to be confirmed for two reasons. One, almost always, Presidents get the people that they nominate. That’s the typical expectation. There are some examples in the past that didn’t get through, but they usually quit before they get this far.

“He’s also helped by the fact that he’s in the senate he’s a known quantity. Even people who philosophically and politically have disagreements with him are unlikely to vote against him.

“It was to be expected for there to be a controversy, because what happened in 1986 is a story and it had a substantial racial component, but he was always going to be confirmed. None of the new objections that were raised would be disqualifying. There may be things that some people may not like particularly with him on such as the drug war, immigration and civil asset forfeiture, but that’s going to happen.”

Rep. Martha Roby, R-Troy, also applauded the Sessions appointment on Thursday.

“Jeff Sessions is a great American. He will serve this country well as Attorney General,” Roby said. “He’s a great conservative who has served Alabama well, and he will continue that service down the road in his new capacity.”

Roby also fielded a question about being considered for Sessions’ Senate seat.

“Senator Sessions leaves big shoes to fill, and I’m honored to be considered for that, but I’m focused on the work that we have to do in the House on behalf of Alabama’s Second District and this great country,” Roby said.

Sessions responded to allegations of racism by calling them “damnably false.”

Sessions vigorously denied that he had ever called the NAACP “un-American.” He said he had never harbored racial animus, calling the allegations — which included that he had referred to a black attorney in his office as “boy” — part of a false caricature.

“It wasn’t accurate then,” Sessions said. “It isn’t accurate now.”

Sessions also stated that he could uphold laws tha the doesn’t necessarily agree with politically, saying that his job as a Senator and his job as attorney general are two separate issues.

Sessions is presumed to be confirmed shortly for the position.