President-elect Donald Trump's nomination of Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama for attorney general has stirred both controversy and support among conservative Christian activists (video below).
Some of the outrage over Sessions stems from his past opposition to civil rights and attempted prosecutions of innocent black people, noted The Nation in November 2016.
Tony Perkins, who heads the Christian-based Family Research Council, told Fox Business on Jan. 9 that Sessions is "one of the most congenial men on Capitol Hill" and has a "very good reputation." Perkins accused the opposition of marginalizing and demonizing all of Trump's appointees.
Jordan Sekulow, of the Christian-based American Center for Law and Justice, expressed his hope on the ACLJ radio show on Jan. 9 that Sessions would not focus on civil rights issues as attorney general, notes Right Wing Watch:
We also know how politicized the Department of Justice has become, not just under Loretta Lynch but, remember, in most part under Eric Holder.
You’ve got, basically, a Department of Justice which is out of control and not really focused where it should be, which is based off its mandate for what its job is to do at the federal government.
It’s gotten obsessed with this civil rights issue, and I think you know that part of this confirmation battle is that the left is upset that the Department of Justice will no longer be a liberal, activist arm of the federal government.
Sekulow was also upset that the Justice Department had investigated police forces "instead of criminal activity," although at least some of those investigations were for criminal civil rights violations.
The Nation noted that Sessions, when he was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama in 1985, tried and failed to prosecute three innocent black voting rights activists on 29 charges of mail fraud, altering absentee ballots, and conspiracy to vote more than once. Sessions admitted to once calling the Voting Rights Act a "piece of intrusive legislation."
When President Reagan nominated Sessions for a federal judge position only four months later, several people opposed Sessions during his congressional hearing, reported The Nation.
A Department of Justice employee, Gerry Herbert, testified that Sessions referred to the NAACP and ACLU as "Communist-inspired" and "un-American." A black assistant U.S. attorney, Thomas Figures, testified that Sessions repeatedly called him "boy" and that his co-workers told him that Sessions said he used to think that the KKK were OK until he found out they smoked marijuana.