It’s week two of the Trump presidency and only two of his 13 cabinet members are confirmed.
More are expected to be confirmed on Tuesday, including the nominee for U.S. Attorney General, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.
But some worry about the fate of voting and civil rights, in his hands.
News 3’s Courtney Cole spoke to the First Vice President of the Savannah NAACP to hear his concerns.
After a week-long delay, the Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote on U.S. Attorney General nominee, Jeff Sessions on Tuesday, January 31st.
The Alabama Senator continues to face opposition, including Richard Shinhoster, the First Vice President of the Savannah NAACP.
“The NAACP’s position has been very strong against his confirmation because he’s just not consistent with our ideas for support [of] voting rights, on supporting [change] in the criminal justice system, nor on civil rights,” Shinhoster told News 3.
Shinhoster is referring to Sessions’ handling of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was signed into law to overcome legal barriers that prevented African-Americans from voting.
“Jeff Sessions was apart of the coalition in the Senate that voted to gut the 1965 voting rights act. We think it’s already been weakened and him seeing the position that he’s seeking will further damage the voting rights act,” said Shinhoster.
Sessions has served as a U.S. Attorney, as a State Attorney General for Alabama, and was elected to the Senate in 1996. But, he was denied federal judgeship in 1986 after wrongfully prosecuting three black civil rights activists for voter fraud—including civil rights activist Albert Turner, who advised Martin Luther King, Junior.
Shinhoster told News 3 he believes, based on previous national-level investigations, voter fraud is not a significant issue threatening our democratic process.
“Right now, there is little protection in the southern states against discrimination in the area of voting rights. We really believe that many of the policies that we’ve seen come about are there to suppress minorities and other people from having the right to vote.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee also heard testimony in 1986 that Sessions made racist remarks, calling the NAACP and the ACLU “Un-American.” Thomas Figures, a black man who worked as an assistant U.S. attorney, testified that he called him “boy” on more than one occasion and also joked about the Ku Klux Klan being acceptable, except for their use of marijuana.
“If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. 30 years doesn’t change the duck. We think that he will continue to have the same king of spirit, the same kind of attitude toward minorities and people who have been disenfranchised,” said Shinhoster.
Senator Sessions told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he’s not racist or insensitive to African-Americans. He also says he’s supported Civil Rights activity in his state.