The organized left’s kitchen sink tactic seen throughout the week against Senator Jeff Sessions’ (R-AL) nomination for the next U.S. Attorney General included a bold effort tell the Senate Judiciary Committee directly that the nominee’s record of prosecuting federal voter fraud defendants served as an example of voter intimidation.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s opposition campaign formally expanded this week to include the promotion of a letter from former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D), who previously served as a staff lawyer for the organization before advancing to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Clinton Administration.
The document, directed to Senate Judiciary Committee leadership, charged that Sessions’ judgment should be questioned after bringing a case against three black, Alabama voters for what Patrick describes was an effort to “help someone else to vote or advise them how to vote—even if and when they ask for such help.” The defendants named in the case (the Perry County Three) were Albert Turner, Spencer Hogue, Jr., and Evelyn Turner. Patrick reports that he served as counsel to Mr. Hogue. The former governor further charged that the case was an example of Sessions’ “extraordinary quasi-judicial activism” and noted that Sessions targeted his efforts on “black voters and only where white incumbents were losing political ground.” Finally, the letter argued that the former U.S. Attorney’s decision to give 20 local government witnesses armed protection when traveling to testify led some to believe there was a “campaign to intimidate” the group into “believing that voter assistance was illegal.”
The submission to the committee triggered a response from another former DOJ civil rights attorney on Thursday. J. Christian Adams, Public Interest Legal Foundation President, alerted senators to a number of “legal and factual inaccuracies” Patrick had offered that should not be relied on. The nonprofit called foul on Patrick’s attempt to reframe the case as a crackdown on lawful voter assistance and reminded committee members what the actual, alleged statutory violations were—mail fraud and voting more than once in a federal election. Adams argued that perhaps Patrick’s decision to redefine the case could be attributed to his potential view “that since the voters and the [ballot] harvesters were merely of the same race, no crime occurred because the harvesters knew who the voters should (or would) support.” The defendants initially requested the judge acquit them and then later offered to plead guilty to the election crimes—facts Adams notes were omitted in Patrick’s written statement and severely undercut the claim that Sessions should not be trusted, given his record of bringing the unnecessary case.
The NAACP narrative of the week was further challenged when a son of the Perry County Three, Albert Turner, Jr., endorsed Sessions for the post of attorney general, as reported by Breitbart News. Turner admitted there will be some policy differences between himself and an AG Sessions, but he and others in the “civil rights community can work” him if given the chance. He added that there is no longstanding ill will between them, stating that then-U.S. Attorney Sessions had “a job to do” when prosecuting his parents. “He is not a racist,” Turner added. The defendants were acquitted by the jury at the time.
The NAACP letter writing campaign did not end with Governor Patrick. Breitbart News previously reported on an open letter effort circulated and signed by more than 1,200 law professors to oppose the nomination. “Nothing in Senator Sessions’ public life since 1986 has convinced us that he is a different man than the 39-year-old attorney who was deemed too racially insensitive to be a federal district court judge,” the letter charged.
Outside of the war of written words, NAACP President Cornell William Brooks was notoriously arrested during a sit-in at Senator Sessions’ Mobile, Alabama office on Wednesday, according to a recent Breitbart News report. The message was clear: “We are asking the senator to withdraw his name for consideration as attorney general or for the president-elect, Donald Trump, to withdraw the nomination,” Brooks said, according to CNN.
After posting bail, Brooks joined a Friday morning conference call with top leadership from the NAACP-LDF, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, La Raza, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Al Sharpton from the National Action Network to retell his experience. Recent IRS Form 990s revealed that the combined salaries for the speakers on the call exceed $1.5 million dollars. Sharpton promised that like the NAACP sit-in, the National Action Network intends to scatter occupiers in each of the offices of senators voting for Sessions’ confirmation and “may stay awhile”.
The conference call road-tested a number of key talking points against the senator, with NAACP-LDF President Sherrilyn Ifill charging, “the question is not ‘is Jeff Sessions a racist?’ The question is whether we can trust him to enforce civil rights laws.” MALDEF President Thomas Saenz added that “it takes more than a law degree to be attorney general,” questioning Sessions’ competence to fairly enforce civil rights laws. When asked by National Public Radio if any on the call had direct talks with Sessions for the purpose of smoothing out differences, Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference explained that the senator had not yet reached out.
Assuming a successful confirmation, Christian Adams predicted to Breitbart News’ Lee Stranahan that left-wing agitation will only increase from within the Justice Department. Due to the limited number of appointees Sessions would be able to place, he will be entering a “nest of vipers” as it regards to career bureaucrats acting upon their personal legal and political views.
Logan Churchwell is a founding editor of the Breitbart Texas team. You can follow him on Twitter @LCChurchwell. He also serves as the communications director for the Public Interest Legal Foundation.