After being denied a federal judgeship in the 1980s for alleged racism, Jeff Sessions has become President Trump's attorney general. The Senate voted to confirm their former colleague on Wednesday in a split vote that mostly went along party lines. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin was the only Democrat who voted in favor of Sessions. No Republican voted in opposition to him.
Democrats pulled an all-nighter on Wednesday before the vote admonishing Sessions' record and his embracement of Trumpism. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was barred from speaking on the Senate floor after she read a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King that criticized Sessions for using "the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens" as a U.S. attorney in Alabama. Sen. Dianna Feinstein said that she did not have confidence that Sessions "can fairly and independently safeguard the freedoms" of all Americans.
The united opposition to Sessions was all for not, however, as a 52-47 vote made him the new attorney general. That vote has concerned organizations that protect civil liberties. In a statement Wednesday, the NAACP said Sessions had a "historically weak" record in support of voting rights, police accountability and the rights of immigrants and women. "Rather than hang out heads in despair, the NAACP will continue to hold the new AG and the Department of Justice accountable," the statement said. The ACLU welcomed the confirmation by publicly vowing to sue Sessions if and when he violates the Constitution.
The GOP thinks the Democrats were perverting Sessions' record.
"That Democrats would try to skew Sessions' strong civil rights record and consistent adherence to rule of law in a partisan effort to block their colleague's nomination shows their only commitment is to blindly obstructing this administration," Ronna McDanial, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, said in a statement.