FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Jeff Sessions is Rolling Back Basic Rights

As Donald Trump nears the end of his first 100 days, media commentary focuses primarily on how little he has achieved in comparison to other presidents. It’s a mistake, however, to discount the threat that the Trump administration poses to our fundamental rights. His attorney general, former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, is a case in point.

Sessions has set out with a vengeance to transform the Department of Justice into a Department of Injustice. He’s been hindered by the incompetence that characterizes this administration. He’s home alone in his department, with no nominations offered for the heads of top DOJ units — the civil rights, criminal or national security divisions. His deputies — Nos. 2 and 3 in the DOJ — have been nominated but not confirmed.

That has slowed but not stopped Sessions’ efforts to rollback basic rights. He’s reversed the Justice Department’s position of challenging voter identification laws; he deems the Voting Rights Act too “intrusive.” Now the DOJ will intervene in favor of states that pass discriminatory measures to restrict access to the ballot. The right to vote — the fundamental right of a democracy — will now depend on the willingness of judges to stand up for the truth, as U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos did in ignoring the DOJ intervention and ruling that the Texas ID law was “passed, at least in part, with a discriminatory purpose.”

Sessions has issued orders to revive the old, failed war on drugs. The promising bipartisan efforts to reform sentencing provisions to end the mass incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders are to be abandoned. Sessions wants to revive private prisons and insure them a steady stream of prisoners. People of color, particularly young African-American men, will be the greatest victims of this injustice.

Sessions has called for a “review” of all the reform agreements that Obama’s Civil Rights Division has reached with police forces. His DOJ sought to delay implementation of a consent decree reached in Baltimore in the wake of the Freddy Gray killing. Sessions scorns these agreements as “political expediency” that will “handcuff the police.” In Baltimore, the judge ignored the DOJ’s efforts to impede reform. But despite the outcry at the killings of young black men and women, Sessions is clearly telling police they can act with impunity once more.

And Sessions has been point on the administration’s efforts to ramp up deportation, terrorize immigrants and defend the president’s unconstitutional Muslim ban. He expressed amazement that a “judge sitting on an island in the Pacific” could overturn the president’s order. That judge was a federal district court justice in the state of Hawaii, part of the union for 58 years.

Sessions has issued letters to nine sanctuary cities, counties and states, including the state of California, New York City, Chicago and Cook County, threatening to deny federal grant funds — largely funds for local law enforcement — unless they commit to cooperating with the administration’s sweeping assaults on immigrants. This arbitrary assertion of federal power is particularly remarkable from Sessions, who as a senator declaimed endlessly about the glories of states’ rights. Luckily, Sessions wasn’t at Herod’s side when Mary and Joseph sought sanctuary in Egypt with the baby Jesus.

The sanctuary jurisdictions have vowed to resist Sessions edicts. Speaking for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, spokesman Matt McGrath noted: “The administration’s plan to deny federal funds to cities that are standing up for their values is unconstitutional, and Chicago is proud to stand with 34 cities and counties across the country in asking a federal court to prevent the federal government from illegally withholding federal funds.”

New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio declared that New York City will “remain a city welcoming of immigrants who have helped make our city the safest big city in the nation. Any attempt to cut NYPD funding for the nation’s top terror target will be aggressively fought in court. We won’t back down from protecting New Yorkers from terror — or from an overzealous administration fixated on xenophobia and needless division.”

The assault on rights — for the LGBT community, for people of color, for women, for immigrants — is clear. Efforts to rollback voting rights, civil rights, police reform and sentencing reform have already begun. The resistance — from courts, from decent public officials, from activists and citizens of conscience — has been and will be fierce. Sessions’ Department of Injustice is measure of the damage that Trump can do. Instead of making America a more perfect union, Americans will have to mobilize to defend their rights from the very department that is tasked with protecting them.

More articles by:

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

June 19, 2018
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
We Can Thank Top Union Officials for Trump
Lawrence Davidson
The Republican Party Falls Apart, the Democrats Get Stuck
Sheldon Richman
Trump, North Korea, and Iran
Richard Rubenstein
Trump the (Shakespearean) Fool: a New Look at the Dynamics of Trumpism
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Protect Immigrant Rights; End the Crises That Drive Migration
Gary Leupp
Norway: Just Withdraw From NATO
Kristine Mattis
Nerd Culture, Adultolescence, and the Abdication of Social Priorities
Mike Garrity
The Forest Service Should Not be Above the Law
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Activism And Smears Masquerade As Journalism: From Seralini To Jairam Ramesh, Aruna Rodrigues Puts The Record Straight
Doug Rawlings
Does the Burns/Novick Vietnam Documentary Deserve an Emmy?
Kenneth Surin
2018 Electioneering in Appalachian Virginia
Nino Pagliccia
Chrystia Freeland Fails to See the Emerging Multipolar World
John Forte
Stuart Hall and Us
June 18, 2018
Paul Street
Denuclearize the United States? An Unthinkable Thought
John Pilger
Bring Julian Assange Home
Conn Hallinan
The Spanish Labyrinth
Patrick Cockburn
Attacking Hodeidah is a Deliberate Act of Cruelty by the Trump Administration
Gary Leupp
Trump Gives Bibi Whatever He Wants
Thomas Knapp
Child Abductions: A Conversation It’s Hard to Believe We’re Even Having
Robert Fisk
I Spoke to Palestinians Who Still Hold the Keys to Homes They Fled Decades Ago – Many are Still Determined to Return
Steve Early
Requiem for a Steelworker: Mon Valley Memories of Oil Can Eddie
Jim Scheff
Protect Our National Forests From an Increase in Logging
Adam Parsons
Reclaiming the UN’s Radical Vision of Global Economic Justice
Dean Baker
Manufacturing Production Falls in May and No One Notices
Laura Flanders
Bottom-Up Wins in Virginia’s Primaries
Binoy Kampmark
The Anguish for Lost Buildings: Embers and Death at the Victoria Park Hotel
Weekend Edition
June 15, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Dan Kovalik
The US & Nicaragua: a Case Study in Historical Amnesia & Blindness
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Yellow Journalism and the New Cold War
Charles Pierson
The Day the US Became an Empire
Jonathan Cook
How the Corporate Media Enslave Us to a World of Illusions
Ajamu Baraka
North Korea Issue is Not De-nuclearization But De-Colonization
Andrew Levine
Midterms Coming: Antinomy Ahead
Louisa Willcox
New Information on 2017 Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Deaths Should Nix Trophy Hunting in Core Habitat
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Singapore Fling
Ron Jacobs
What’s So Bad About Peace, Man?
Robert Hunziker
State of the Climate – It’s Alarming!
L. Michael Hager
Acts and Omissions: The NYT’s Flawed Coverage of the Gaza Protest
Dave Lindorff
However Tenuous and Whatever His Motives, Trump’s Summit Agreement with Kim is Praiseworthy
Robert Fantina
Palestine, the United Nations and the Right of Return
Brian Cloughley
Sabre-Rattling With Russia
Chris Wright
To Be or Not to Be? That’s the Question
David Rosen
Why Do Establishment Feminists Hate Sex Workers?
Victor Grossman
A Key Congress in Leipzig
John Eskow
“It’s All Kinderspiel!” Trump, MSNBC, and the 24/7 Horseshit Roundelay
Paul Buhle
The Russians are Coming!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail