ron johnson
Press Release
January 6, 2017
Media Contact
Mike Browne, Deputy Director
(608) 444-3483
One Wisconsin Now

Sen. Ron Johnson Set to Fast Track Setting Clock Back on Civil Rights, Voting Rights With Nomination of Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General

Racism, Antipathy to Voting Rights of Nominee for U.S. Attorney General Doesn’t Look Any Better in 2017 Than It Did in 1986

MADISON, Wis. — Sen. Ron Johnson, whose dilatory tactics have resulted in the longest federal judicial vacancy in the nation, appears on board for the fast tracking of Donald Trump’s nomination of Jeff Sessions to be the U.S. Attorney General. One Wisconsin Now Research Director and attorney Jenni Dye noted that Sessions was previously deemed unqualified by the U.S. Senate for a federal judicial nomination in 1986, in large part because an examination of his record revealed disturbing incidents of racism. Sessions current nomination is also raising concerns because it is quickly moving forward despite his failure to provide complete responses to the questionnaire required of him for consideration.

“Jeff Sessions has a record on civil and voting rights that disqualified him from becoming a federal judge in 1986,” commented Dye. “And it doesn’t look any better in 2017 than it did over thirty years ago.”

There are many red flags for putting Jeff Sessions in charge of the U.S. Department of Justice that is responsible for enforcing federal laws on civil rights and voting rights and protecting the constitutional rights of all Americans. Among them are his his opposition to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and his votes against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act.

Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Sessions was a U.S. Attorney and the Attorney General of Alabama. During his time there he reportedly made comments calling the Voting Rights Act “intrusive” as it seeks to protect eligible minority voters, suggested he agreed with a colleague who referred to another attorney as a “disgrace to his race” for representing black clients, repeatedly referred to his black assistant as “boy” and termed the NAACP “un-American” and “forc[ing] civil rights down the throats of people.” Sessions also prosecuted black citizens on charges of ‘voter fraud’ later proved to be false and endorsed discriminatory voter ID laws based on the myth of widespread voter fraud.

Dye noted that previously Sessions’ record was disturbing enough to result in the U.S. Senate rejecting his nomination as a federal judge in 1986.

Johnson’s sudden willingness to quickly consider nominees for positions is in marked contrast to his behavior throughout his previous term in office. He has delayed filling the longest running federal judicial vacancy in the nation, allowing a seat on the Seventh Circuit Federal Court of Appeals to go unfilled for over 2,500 days since the opening was announced. And, in an historically unprecedented act of partisanship, participated in the scheme to rig the federal courts to the GOP’s advantage by refusing a fair hearing and vote on President Obama’s nominee to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dye concluded, “Ron Johnson has spent years stalling judicial nominations, and refused to do his job and even give President Obama’s nominee to fill U.S. Supreme Court vacancy, Merrick Garland, a judge with bipartisan support, so much as a hearing. That he is now willing to support fast tracking the nomination of someone like Jeff Sessions to a position responsible for protecting our rights is not just appalling, it’s un-American.”

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One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.

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