By Hank Sanders –
Alabama Senator –
I was asked, “Will you testify at the hearing on Jeff Sessions?” I said, “I will be glad to help in any way I can.”
She said, “We don’t know how many witnesses the opposing side will have so that impacts who will testify.”
It never occurred to me that those opposing the nomination of Senator Sessions for Attorney General of the United States of America would be allowed just four witnesses.
I was contacted by various persons concerning the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions including the following: aides to U.S. Senators; Judiciary Committee aides; Legal Defense Fund attorneys; a representative of the Center for Immigration Integrity; media members; political leaders; law professors; a former U.S. Magistrate judge; community leaders; and others.
I have experienced Jeff Sessions for more than 30 years. I am convinced that Senator Jeff Sessions will do injustice at the U.S. Justice Department.
I published an earlier Sketches in which I shared some reasons why I oppose the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions. I will not repeat those reasons in this Sketches. I will, however, share additional information. I am convinced Senator Jeff Sessions will do injustice at the U.S. Justice Department.
I have been reminded more than once that Jeff Sessions will be confirmed no matter what we do. I have been reminded more than once of what happened to Thomas Figures after he testified at the 1986 hearing that resulted in Jeff Sessions being rejected as a federal district judge in Mobile. I was also reminded that the same thing could happen to me.
Thomas Figures was a Black lawyer working in the U.S. Attorney office under Jeff Sessions. He testified that Sessions called him “boy” and said that he should “be careful how he talked to White people.”
A few years later, the Jeff Sessions-led U.S. Attorney office indicted Figures on charges of attempting to bribe a witness. Figures told me that this was just Sessions retaliating against him for testifying at the 1986 hearing. A federal jury exonerated Figures of all charges. I am convinced that Jeff Sessions will do injustice at the U.S. Justice Department.
Former Mobile County Commissioner Douglas Wicks also testified against U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions during the 1986 hearing. He said that Jeff Sessions called him “nigger.” The very next year, in 1987, he, like Figures, was prosecuted by the Jeff Sessions — led U.S. Attorney Office. Wicks said that it was retaliation and still maintained his innocence in spite of a conviction. I am convinced that Senator Jeff Sessions will do injustice at the U.S. Justice Department.
Last year, I traveled to Washington, D.C. with Dr. Joe Reed to persuade Senator Jeff Sessions to remove his opposition to several potential African American nominees for federal judge in Alabama. We met with Senator Jeff Sessions, Senator Richard Shelby and Congresswoman Terri Sewell. After the meeting, Dr. Joe Reed and I continued to talk with Senator Sessions. He said that we had testified against him at the hearing for federal judge in 1986. Dr. Reed reminded him that he did not testify against him or oppose him. I stated that I did testify in 1986. Senator Sessions was still holding on to my testifying some thirty years later. I am convinced that Senator Jeff Sessions will do injustice at the U.S. Justice Department.
I personally remember the intimidation during the Jeff Sessions — led investigation of the Marion Three for “voter fraud.” I was the only attorney in the case at the time. I remember how busses were parked at the very spot where Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot in February 1965. (Jackson’s death, along with other things, led to the Bloody Sunday March, the Selma-to-Montgomery March and ultimately, the 1965 Voting Rights Act.)
Numerous heavily armed law enforcement officers surrounded the busses as dozens of Black voters were loaded on busses to be taken 168 miles to Mobile. The heavily armed law enforcement officers escorted them all they way. It was like a terrorist situation. They were kept overnight. These witnesses could easily have testified at the federal courthouse in Selma, which was just 30 miles from Marion. They could have testified and returned home each night. There was no need for busses. There was no need for massive numbers of heavily armed officers. The entire situation was extremely intimidating. I am convinced that Senator Jeff Sessions will do injustice at the U.S. Justice Department.
This intimidation continued when Sessions’ office attempted to revoke the bail bond of Albert Turner, one of the Marion Three. Heavily armed law enforcement officers were all over the federal courtroom. It was truly intimidating. One would have thought a terrorist was being prosecuted rather than a community leader who had risked his life working as an Alabama State Director for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and SCLC (the Southern Christian Leadership Conference) to secure the right to vote for African Americans. For these and other reasons, I am convinced that Senator Jeff Sessions will do injustice at the U.S. Justice Department.
I was shocked when I learned that Senate Republican leaders would allow only four witnesses for those opposing the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions. I immediately knew that I would not be testifying. No one from Alabama will testify in person against Jeff Sessions. I have, however, submitted my testimony in writing and will go to Washington, D.C. to help all I can. In spite of the great danger and long odds, I want to do all I can. I am convinced that Senator Jeff Sessions will do injustice at the U.S. Justice Department.
© 2017, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.