A week after statewide demonstrations and a sit-in arrest at the offices of US Attorney General nominee and Senator Jeff Sessions, NAACP President/CEO Cornell William Brooks will be one of only four opposition voices to testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee about his fitness for the position of US Attorney General. The hearing will take place on Jan. 10-11 at the Russell Senate Office building.
Last week President Brooks, along with the Alabama branches of the NAACP, led statewide demonstrations at Senator Sessions' offices in Dothan, Montgomery, Huntsville, Birmingham, and Mobile, AL. In Mobile, Brooks was arrested along with Alabama’s State President Benard Simelton and four other NAACP members for conducting a civil disobedience protest and charged with second degree criminal trespass.
“As a matter of conscience and conviction, we will continue to call on our members and supporters to escalate direct action, demonstrations civil disobedience to support democracy and oppose a nomination that imperils our democratic right to vote,” said NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks.
“A nominee with a record of refusing to acknowledge the reality of voter suppression across American and in the home state of the Voting Rights Act, Alabama, can’t be trusted to protect voting rights in particular or civil rights in general. Indeed, a nominee with a record of voicing support for the discriminatory voter ID laws that are the very means of voter suppression cannot be relied upon prosecute cases of voter suppression.”
Brooks is one of only four opposition witnesses that the Republican-majority committee is allowing to testify. Only nine witnesses are currently being allowed to speak. In another unusual move, Senator Sessions has refused to recuse himself from voting for his own nomination.
“Senator Sessions' right to vote for himself is protected in U.S. Senate while leaving the right of citizens to vote unprotected in precincts in Alabama and across America — The senator has done little and said virtually nothing about the ugly reality of voter suppression,” Brooks said.
While eager to testify, Brooks is also calling upon NAACP members and supporters around the nation to write, call, post, tweet and protest their opposition to the nomination.
As the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization, the NAACP has continued to oppose Senator Sessions based on a record on voting rights that is unreliable at best and hostile at worst; a failing record on other civil rights including those of women, immigrant, and LGBT communities; a racially-offensive record of remarks and behavior; and a dismal record on criminal justice reform issues.
Sessions's voting record has been graded no higher than F on the NAACP’s federal legislative report card on civil rights issues. He has voted against the NAACP’s position 90 percent of the time while in Congress, where he has voted consistently against immigration, police accountability, voter protections and women rights. He is one of the first cabinet nominees to appear before the Senate from the incoming administration of President-elect Donald J. Trump.
The NAACP has requested Senator Sessions to withdraw from the confirmation process and that President-elect Trump replace him with a candidate with a clear record of protecting the rights the Attorney General is sworn by oath to protect. The NAACP stands with a coalition that includes hundreds of civil rights groups, law professors and elected officials in opposing his nomination.
Members of the NAACP Alabama State Conference are also expected to travel to Washington DC to attend the hearing for Sessions, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. U.S. senators could vote as early as next week on the nomination.
For information on the hearings, including a list of witnesses, visit the Senate Committee on the Judiciary at: http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/01/03/2017/attorney-general-nomination-01-10-17.
On Sunday a interfaith coalition called Faith in Public Life announced a Monday morning press conference to call on Congress to reject the nomination of Jeff Sessions, and only support cabinet appointees who will embrace a moral public policy agenda for the nation, to be followed by the unveiling of a “Declaration of Moral Resistance,” and lead a moral march to Capitol Hill to deliver it to the offices of Congressional leadership.