Jeff Sessions Once Said He Thought Klan Was Okay Until He Learned They Smoked Pot
Judiciary Committee ranking Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who grilled Sonia Sotomayor over issues of race, faced a similar grilling in 1986 when he was nominated to a district court. Ironically, past statements of his got him in enough trouble to lose the nomination.
…according to sworn statements by Justice Department lawyers, Sessions called the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union “communist inspired” and said they tried to “force civil rights down the throats of people.” Sessions reportedly said of the Ku Klux Klan that he “used to think they’re OK” until he learned that some Klan members were “pot smokers.” Sessions said his words were in jest or had been misrepresented.
Sessions’ own sponsor and some party members even turned against him, and the Republican-controlled judiciary committee turned him down.
The committee held four hearings during one of which Sessions pleaded that “I am not a racist.” [Justice Department lawyer J. Gerald] Hebert also testified that Sessions had called a white civil rights lawyer a “disgrace to his race” for litigating voting rights cases. His nomination failed in committee on a 10 to 8 vote, with [Senator Arlen] Specter joining the nominee’s original patron, Sen. Howell Heflin (D-Ala.) in dooming the nomination.
Thomas Figures, a black former Assistant US Attorney in Alabama, added more fuel to the fire when he testified against Sessions.
Sessions, he said, had called him “boy” and, after overhearing him chastise a secretary, warned him to “be careful what you say to white folks.” Figures echoed Hebert’s claims, saying he too had heard Sessions call various civil rights organizations, including the National Council of Churches and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, “un-American.” Sessions denied the accusations but again admitted to frequently joking in an off-color sort of way. In his defense, he said he was not a racist, pointing out that his children went to integrated schools and that he had shared a hotel room with a black attorney several times.Click here for reuse options!
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